I’ve never known that this movie was previously rated NC-17, before finally re-rated R in exchange to some cuts on inappropriate scenes. Maybe, if I’d known it before, I wouldn’t have watched in cinemas (lol). Also, I have never known that “Killer Joe” was directed by William Friedkin, an Oscar-winning director for the legendary horror “The Exorcist”. The thing is, this black-comedy would have been more entertaining if these inappropriate scenes were clearly shown on its screening in cinemas. Well, I think I’m gonna write another post about that.
Matthew McConaughey is Joe the killer. “Killer Joe” starts off with Chris (played by Emile Hirsch), a drug dealer, knocked on a trailer under a heavy rain in a late night. Sharla (played by Gina Gershon), his step mother, opened the door for him. He discussed with his dad, Ansel (played by Thomas Haden Church), about killing his mom to gain the money of her life insurance policy because he was in an urge need of money. His dad agreed, but both of them want to have their hands clean. That’s why they hired Joe, a police detective as well as a hitman, to kill his mom. But things just got out of control as Joe got closer to Chris’ sister, Dottie (played by Juno Temple).
To be honest, “Killer Joe” is one of the most understandable black-comedy I have ever watched. Well, pornography and violence will never gonna be my taste of comedy, but what Friedkin served in “Killer Joe” is a bit clearer and funnier. Adapted from a play by Tracy Letts—who also wrote the screenplay of this movie, “Killer Joe” sometimes feels less straight-forward. There are parts which I expect would become a shock therapy but ended up as something that went round and round. Yet, it’s still funny and entertaining. I got a clear point of the plot and there’s a good development of the narrative structure. Of course, the black comedy is an adding value. I won’t give you my opinion about that (because I didn’t experience it: most of the inappropriate scenes were censored—wait for my next post about it), but some reviews I read (like here or here—both written in Bahasa Indonesia) give me clues about some presentation of woman nudity (both upper parts and lower parts) and sex activity (like the ridiculous ‘fried chicken’ scenes near the ending) in this Western-tasted flick. The story itself is interesting, but those inappropriate scenes are the most attracting thing. Friedkin likes to play with curiosity and sorrow, and although laughing or making fun of other’s bad luck is not polite, Friedkin forced us to do so. Chris and his family’s grief will be the main comedy we can enjoy, and all violence, blood, and filth will be our cuisine. There’s this weird feeling I had, when I felt sympathy for them but I also wanted to laugh to them.
Now, imagine a police detective doubles as a murderer. That’s the character McConaughey played. Not a good combination? Haha, it’d be better to call it a paradox. McConaughey looks better to be a badass than a justice enforcer, and that’s why putting label “police detective” to Joe is kinda ruining the whole effort of making him be a silently-terrifying antagonist. Moreover, I think there’s no need to do that. I mean, if he could murder someone safe and sound, just label him “a professional murderer”. That’s it. We don’t need that extra label. It just didn’t make sense. My attention is addressed more to Emile Hirsch. He’s a best fucked-up character. Chris just got the whole things in front of him working out of the plan and he’s getting desperate and regretful for all the bad things he did in the past. He was reckless and he had a bad luck. Hirsch portrayed him very good. Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon played good supporting roles, while Juno Temple, although became my first attention-stealer for her innocent character, finally did nothing special along the story. It’s neglectful, because I guess she held a good potent to twist the plot and surprise the viewers. I expected her to do so because at the beginning, there is a kind of shadow behind her that halt me to accept her as just an innocent girl.
At first I don’t want to write a review for “Killer Joe” because I didn’t fully receive the black-comedy due to some (abundant) censors, but well, I’m just gonna giveaway what I feel about it. “Killer Joe” is good. At least the story was developed well and it has its climax. It’s not a fresh story, sometimes it feels a bit long-winded, yet it’s still entertaining. “Killer Joe” may be a good option if you want a unusual, unpopular, nice entertainment.
▲ Emile Hirsch, good development of black comedy
▼ Half-hearted characterization of McConaughey, some parts feel a bit long-winded
KILLER JOE | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2012 RATING Rated R for strong and disturbing violence, sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and language (edited for re-rating) RUNTIME 102 min GENRE Crime, Drama, Thriller CAST Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon WRITER Tracy Letts (play & screenplay) DIRECTOR William Friedkin IMDB RATING 68/100 METACRITIC 62/100 (Generally Favorable) ROTTEN TOMATOES 77% (Certified Fresh) MORE INFO