Friday, December 14, 2012

Killer Joe

Killer Joe

Directed by William Friedkin

Despite the general grimy, sleaziness of almost every aspect of this movie, there is a certain appeal to the incredibly graphic Killer Joe: I'm just not quite sure what it is yet.

This is an ugly, ugly movie. From the first scene, we are given an up-close look at some of the most repulsive people you will ever have the displeasure of growing acquainted with. You have to praise Friedkin and co.'s fearlessness when it comes to this production, but it's difficult to let that evolve into anything more than mere appreciation.

Matthew McConaughey, who after years of playing nothing more than "pretty boys" and lawyers has finally crossed over into the realms of actual acting this year. Between Bernie and Magic Mike, he proved he had more talent than I realized, and this - the greatest performance of the three - is some truly fantastic acting. The rest of the cast play their roles as convincingly sleazy as possible, never even slightly out-of-place in this equally grungy movie, but it's McConaughey's titular anti-hero (if the word "hero" could even remotely apply to him) that pulls it all together. A well-written character, and a brilliant performance.

This movie, which has built its infamous reputation on one particularly startling scene, is intentionally vulgar and offensive in as many ways as possible. The material is there, and the talent is certainly there, but they instead choose to go with the path less travelled, ending in a well-deserved NC-17 rating. Was it worth it? Absolutely not. Vulgarity for vulgarity's sake is not inherently good. I recall having a similar problem with Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master": there has to be some reason for gratuitous obscenity for it to be effective in any way. This film uses it to establish nearly every character as being disgusting human beings. And then it keeps on and on and on.

It's not as if sitting through this movie is torturous. I can't say I enjoyed it, but it kept my interest. When all is said and done, McConaughey may be the only good reason to watch this movie. But that being said, I would still say he is good enough reason for this not to be a waste of your time. Unless you don't like especially crass movies -- which, make no mistake, this certainly is.

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