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Killer Joe

Directed by William Friedkin

USA, 2011

Cornerhouse, 30 June 2012

It’s a gross, crazy, OTT crime drama – and there’s a lot to admire in it.

Let’s get to the acting, first: Matthew McConaughey in the lead is dazzlingly supreme, while the rest are merely excellent.  About the story and screenplay: well, Tracy Letts wrote it, adapting her own play, and you can characterise it as being as blackly comic as Joe Orton and as amoral and downright noir as Jim Thompson.

Nor does William Friedkin let you down.  Those nihilistic moments – the chase and the beating of the poor sap who starts it all, the abrupt blow to the cheatin’ woman’s face, the gross-out scene with the chicken leg, all that red – are vulgar cinematic gold.  Friedkin is in his element, transforming a tale of human weakness, petty scheming and congenital stupidity into a parable of hope.

And here is an equation to end: Entertaining Mr. Sloane + Nothing More than Murder = Killer Joe.