August 23rd, 2012, by Rob


Killer Joe

Killer Joe is a 2011 Southern Gothic dark comedy film written by Tracy Letts, directed by William Friedkin, and starring Matthew McConaughey in the title role. Letts adapted the screenplay from his play of the same name; Friedkin and Letts had similarly collaborated on the 2006 film Bug.

 

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Killer Joe Plot

Finding himself in considerable debt, Chris, a Texan drug dealer, decides the only solution is to murder his mother to collect the insurance money. Getting together with his father, the ex-husband of Chris’ mother, they decide to hire Joe Cooper, a contract killer who also happens to be a police detective. The plan is that the money will go to Chris’ sister Dottie. However due to the size of the contract fee, Chris agrees that Joe can take Dottie as a retainer until the insurance comes through.

Killer Joe Cast

Matthew McConaughey as Killer Joe Cooper
Emile Hirsch as Chris Smith
Juno Temple as Dottie Smith
Gina Gershon as Sharla Smith
Thomas Haden Church as Ansel Smith
Marc Macaulay as Digger Soames
Gregory C. Bauchard as Filpatrick

Killer Joe Ratings

In the United States, the film received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, for “graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality.” After an unsuccessful appeal, LD Entertainment announced plans to release the film uncut with the NC-17 on July 27, 2012.

In the United Kingdom, the film received an 18 certificate from the BBFC, for its “strong bloody and sadistic violence and sexual threat”.

Killer Joe Release

The film premièred at the 68th Venice International Film Festival before making its North American debut at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, where US distribution rights were acquired by LD Entertainment. LD Entertainment, Liddell’s new theatrical distribution company headed by David Dinerstein, are scheduled to release Killer Joe in July 2012.

The film will make its Quebec premiere at the Fantasia Festival, an annual international genre film festival held in Montreal, Quebec, on July 31 2012.

The film’s UK première was at the Opening Gala of the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 20th June 2012, where it was introduced by William Friedkin and Gina Gershon, who later attended the after-party at the National Museum of Scotland. The film received a theatrical release in the United Kingdom on June 29th.
Reception

Killer Joe received favorable reviews from critics, with review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes recognizing 74% of 73 reviews to be positive; the consensus states: “Violent, darkly comic, and full of strong performances, Killer Joe proves William Friedkin hasn’t lost his touch, even if the plot may be too lurid for some.”

According to Justin Chang of Variety, “Killer Joe was Letts’ first play, written more than a decade before his smash hit August: Osage County, and the text’s sneer of condescension toward its panoply of trailer-trash caricatures has not entirely abated here”, yet “the film doesn’t belabor even its cheaper punchlines, and the fleet, kinetic visual style devised by d.p. Caleb Deschanel and editor Darrin Navarro emphasizes narrative momentum over cruel comedy. To be sure, Friedkin is clearly amused and appalled by his slovenly, foul-mouthed characters, with their off-the-charts levels of dysfunction and incompetence. But he directs them vigorously enough, pushing them past the realm of caricature to individuate themselves onscreen.”

The Daily Telegraph said “Church, Gershon, and Hirsch portray a “uniformly gormless family unit” in a film whose “positively Jacobean climax [earns] its 18 certificate and then some.”

 

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