Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Killer Joe (2012) ***

UR, 102 min.
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Tracy Letts (also play)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon

William Friedkin’s film adaptation of Tracy Letts’ play “Killer Joe” is a quirky little, fun romp of odd characters and sudden disturbing violence. I liked it. It’s certainly no cinematic masterpiece, but it’s made by skilled filmmakers who see its weird story for the original entertaining oddity it is.

Emile Hirsch plays a young man who finds himself in a sticky situation with a small town Texas mobster. He owes $6000 and comes up with a unique plan to get the money to pay off his debt. He proposes to his father that they kill his mother. Since his mother and father are divorced and it seems universally accepted by all involved that the mother is hardly worth the breath she draws, the father agrees to the plan so he can collect the life insurance.

They hire a cop known as Killer Joe because of his extra curricular career as a killer for hire. Matthew McConaughy continues his indie resurrection as the strange law enforcement officer who has very peculiar habits and codes of conduct. When the father and son can’t pay him up front, he agrees to take the sister, who seems a few fuses short of a circuit, as a retainer payment. He soon becomes quite infatuated by the girl, and there’s a hint that he hopes they won’t be able to pay him when all is said and done.

As is inevitable with a piece of American noir with a set up like that, it gets very bloody by its conclusion. Because of its dark nature, this material may not appeal to everyone. It is surprisingly entertaining, though, mostly due to the unique nature of the characters and the casts’ excellent performances

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