Killer Joe (2011)

Killer Joe
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Tracy Letts
Based on: Tracy Letts‘ play
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Matthew McConaughey, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon
Part of: Viennale

Chris (Emile Hirsch) is in trouble and needs money desperately. So he hatches the plan to have his mother killed to cash in on the insurance. He heard about a cop who can be hired for assassinations – Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) – and soon his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) and stepmother Sharla (Gina Gershon) are also on board. When they can’t pay Joe’s downpayment, he asks for Chris’ sister Dottie (Juno Temple) as a retainer instead.

Killer Joe is a tense, surprisingly violent film with a good cast, but the ending was pretty lackluster.

Friedkin certainly knows how to creat tension and keep it up. He had me at the edge of the seat during most of the film and I really wanted to know what was going to happen next.

Unfortunately the things that did happen were not always exactly great. Especially Dottie’s character ark was all kinds of problematic. I could have dealt with most of it, if it hadn’t been for her [SPOILERS] actually falling for Joe and then killing everybody but him. First of all, he pretty much bought and raped her, he should not be rewarded for that and second of all, her “unless I get angry” shtick came too late and out of nowhere. [/SPOILERS] It all comes together in an ending that felt like Tracy Letts didn’t know anymore what to do and how to resolve the situation and just went with, “well, fuck it all.”

But at least the cast was really good. Matthew McConaughey was amazingly, disgustingly creepy – I was quite surprised that he pulled that off as much as he did (which makes the whole Dottie thing even more WTF). Juno Temple was great, as usual (though I would like to see her break out of the weird-bubbly corner every once in a while). But also Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church were pretty damn wonderful.

And for the most part, the film really works very well. And everything up to the ending, especially the last scene, was a master class on tension. (KFC will never be the same again.) It’s just too bad that the end doesn’t cash in on that.

Summarising: Very much worth seeing.

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