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Killer Joe | The Clapper Bored

Killer Joe

Words by Nick Hilton.

The second wave of Matthew McConaughey’s career continues with his finger-lickin’ role in William Friedkin’s Killer Joe. He plays the title character, a cop who runs a side line in killing people for cash and is employed by Emile Hirsch and Thomas Haden Church to dispense with the former’s mother/the latter’s ex-wife. It’s a set-up that’s quite a long way from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days but in this explosive orgy of violence (and conventional orgy sex) you’ll be willing to forgive the man for Failure to Launch. This thing certainly launches. And some.

The sexual violence is going to be a problem for some and, undoubtedly, it’s the elephant in the room when talking about this film. Juno Temple, as the jailbait retainer for the assassin’s services, spends more time naked than she does in clothes and there is certainly an oppressive sexuality about all the scenes involving her. But this decision is self-conscious and is aided by McConaughey’s supremely ambiguous performance- the relationship between him and his deposit is left entirely to the viewer’s perception and the ending, particularly the final line, is stunning.

It’s an unpleasant watch, bathed in Texan sunshine but coated in the muck of Western poverty. The whole ‘trailer trash’ crime drama has been done before (Winter’s Bone sticks out as a particularly fine example) so Friedkin is hardly reinventing the wheel with the nastiness of this movie. But the perverse satisfaction that can be derived from seeing events unfolding onscreen, not to mention to film’s rich coating of dark humour, is what makes it such a treat. You may not ever want to eat KFC again though.

A vicious, nasty film that knows exactly how to play its audience and does so with superb confidence and humour. Wonderfully engaging. 

killer joe
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Title: Killer Joe
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church
Running Time: About 100 mins
Certificate: 19

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