Friday, August 3, 2012


Killer Joe

Killer Joe Generally speaking, living in a trailer is not something to be proud about culturally, socially, and economically. You don't have to live in a trailer park to know that. I am sure you have heard plenty trailer-trash jokes. None of them is flattering about the living on the bottom of a social class ladder.

It's not pretty. It can be quite ugly. It becomes shockingly disturbing in Academy Award winning director William Friedkin's unflinching and captivating new film "Killer Joe" (USA 2012 | 103 min.). The film's mesmerizing characters literally dump their last remaining bit of humanity in the front yard of their trailer, and burn it.

Based on Pulizer Prize winning writer Tracy Letts's play, the film tells an incredible story about a dysfunctional family in Texas, living in a trailer, of course.

The film opens at night during a lightning thunderstorm outside the trailer of the Smith family. Chris (Emile Hirsch), the son of the Smith family, bangs every inch of the trailer while the family dog is barking loudly in the rain. Chris is kicked out from his birth mother's home, so he comes to his dad and step-mom's trailer for help. He needs a large amount money urgently to pay back a drug dealer in order to save his own life.

Chris's dad Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) never sees more than a thousand dollar in his life, therefore, Ansel is not very helpful. Chris's flirtatious step-mom Sharla (Gina Gershon) works at a pizza joint. No much hope there either.

Out of desperation, Chris comes up a crazy solution—he hires a Texas detective Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) to kill somebody for the insurance money. That is because Joe is not just a handsome, polite, smooth talking, yet authoritative lawman, he is a professional killer when he is not on duty.

There is one problem: Chris doesn't have the down payment to hire Killer Joe. Conveniently, the only remaining innocent member in the Smith family, Chris's 12-year-old Dottie (Juno Temple), becomes the "retainer" for Killer Joe before Chris can pay up.

Things get nastier and nastier from there.

Emile Hirsch and Matthew McConaughey in LD Entertainment's Killer Joe

Like those words in Letts's play, director William Friedkin is bold, raw, and uncompromising in his big screen adaption. Everything continues to fly in your face while your draw is dropping. He brilliantly sets a stage for his actors to bring Letts's characters to life. No rehearsal. No retake. Just the original act from the uniformly extraordinary performance by an outstanding ensemble cast. Landing a NC-17 rating? So be it.

Watching this film, I can't help but feeling a sense of guilty pleasure when the misery of these low-life characters unfolds. It's not a story that I have an opportunity to witness in real life. Nor I want to. I anticipate that the situation won't get better, but I find myself intrigued about how much worse it gets.

It's also remarkable that even most of these characters are scum bags, the film still invokes my empathy toward them. I even find Matthew McConaughey's title character quite charming, despite the episode which he gives a whole new perspective about KFC. Besides a terrific screen play and masterful directing, I give credit to the brave and superb performance by every actor in the film.

The trip to this trailer is quite dirty, indeed.

"Killer Joe," an LD Entertainment release, opens on Friday, August 3, 2012 at Bay Area theaters.

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