When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.
So I saw the obvious other Friedkin choice and that was The French Connection which I thought was really good. I saw his first play adaptation, Bug, which I thought was pretty special and I started to realise how much he pushes the performances of the actors and this is clearly his priority over any other aspect of film making. Yes it has to be visually appealing but the subject matter of his work is always reliant on performances.
So Killer Joe is another adaptation of a play by Tracy Letts and again has to rely on strong characters with convincing effort to make it come to life. Thankfully Killer Joe delivers on this. In fact, if it wasn't for William Friedkin's ability to add extreme pressure onto the actors by limiting the shooting to two takes per scene, I honestly think it would have lost it's attraction pretty quickly.
The film takes you into the bowels of low-life Texas and really emphasizes the grim reality of life for some unfortunate families. It was surprising to discover a black comedy breeze come over the film and it did come at you pretty surprisingly (especially scenes including Thomas Haden-Church). The cinematography improved on that point by having close up shots of Joe Cooper preparing himself for his first on-screen appearance to the world and blasting mere seconds of TV trash full screen to the audience to make a clear point on red-necks having a low attention span. All of this made me chuckle but it still kept me interested by providing a simple enough plot and letting the great performances carry it along.
Of course there has been a lot of talk regarding the late scenes of the film. Joe's well spoken manner and calm demeanour are pushed to the edge and his rage is unleashed like a shaken coke can that's been opened up. It came as a real shock to me and the suspense was unbearable enough to make your heart pound. Whichever way it makes you feel at the end, I'm sure you would leave the characters behind knowing it's ended in a really good way and is sure to be discussed well after the credits.
All in all, it's a good piece of work. The effort from the actors far outweigh the visuals which is perfectly fine for a story like this. I'm pretty sure Killer Joe is going to be a reasonable success at the box office and will certainly grab a lot attention when the eventual DVD release comes our way.
- Jul 1, 2012