Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friedkin's Southern Fried Chicken

Killer Joe (2011) - Friedkin
This is one nasty film. Impeccably dressed (in black), always professional Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a Dallas policeman who dabbles in contract killing on the side. He gets approached by a degenerate hick family to kill the ex-wife/mom for the life insurance money. But after finding out these lunkheads don't even have the advances to pay him, Joe almost walks out on them, until he sees Dottie (Juno Temple), a sweet, virginal daughter of the family, twirling around under the bright Texas sky. Creepy and scary, McConaughy is a revelation here: with his chiseled face and tall frame, he dominates the claustrophobic surroundings (half of the film takes place inside a trailer). Friedkin adapts Tracy Lett's unabashedly pulpy stage play with extreme economical precision. There is no fat to be found anywhere. And it's really funny. It plays out like an early Coen brothers film but has that extra jolt of Southern sleaze. Killer Joe fully embraces its typical white trash stereotypes and is not afraid of pushing buttons - many would find that 'fried drumstick scene' too distasteful and disturbing. But I have to say it's hugely entertaining. Like in Bug, Friedkin's previous stage adaptation, the veteran director seems to have found his calling in making a small-budget, tight psychological noir that provides actors space to exercise their craft.