Killer Joe: Dynamic McConaughey

The first truly great performance in the actor’s comeback trek.

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Killer Joe is the first movie to make you think Oscar worthy in 2012. While other films have came close and/or scored, this is a movie that demands to be seen. A different kind of entertainment that quite frankly needs to find more production in Hollywood.

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Here is the story of Chris(Emile Hirsch), who finds himself 6,000 dollars in debt to a group of people you don’t want to owe money to. Under immense pressure, he contacts Joe Cooper(Matthew McConaughney) to complete a job. That job involves murder and the collection of an insurance policy. Chris’ father Ansel(Thomas Haden Church) and stepmother Charlene(Gina Gershon) are involved. Dottie(Juno Temple) is the prize possession that lures Joe into the deal. From here on out, the madness grows right along with the sharp charm of William Friedkin’s dark thriller.

Killer Joe will change the way you look at McConaughey. Playing a unique man of many skills, McConaughey is a revelation and reminds you there is a fine actor behind the good southern looks. This is the performance of the year. Memorable performances arrive when you know no other actor could have played that role as good as the one on screen in front of your eyes. McConaughey owns a movie with a great cast doing solid work. He is the reason to watch the movie. A true Oscar worthy performance.

Part comical, part sinister and all together precise and calm, McConaughey sets the screen on fire in one particular interrogation scene that ranks as the best moment in a movie all year. Questioning two people who owe him an explanation, McConaughey sinks his teeth so far into the role, you drop the inclination the movie couldn’t get any better. Joe and Charlene have a severely hilarious and horrific confrontation about the greatest thing on earth that happens to be quite painful: the truth. The difference maker in the setup here is the dark devilish comedy on display. The filmmakers aren’t afraid to inject a fair bit of hilarity into a dangerous action aided situation.

Being a fan of McConaughey and having known for years his underlying talent, this is the kind of performance you want him to tackle and you feel proud when he does it with complete authority. You want your preferred actors to go after risky juicy roles because it qualifies as interest worth the time and effort. Its a challenging role because he plays the role completely cool whereas other actors may have overplayed it or simply tried to chew scenery.

Joe Cooper isn’t an evil man. He’s a man with a particular skill set and decency to accompany his actions. Church offers the dry wit of a dim man caught in a bad situation, Hirsch gives a lived in performance and Temple shows us that good acting starts with the eyes. While the supporting cast is quality, this is McConaughey’s movie. He steals every scene he is in. He’s understated until he has to explode. In this movie, Killer Joe Cooper is the fuse.

The NC-17 is earned here, with graphic content of all kinds. William Friedkin creates a pulpy Texas twilight zone feel and hands the movie off to the actors. The screenplay, especially the dialogue, deserves award consideration. Tracy Letts adapted the movie from her own play, and a viewer is glad the words stayed in the same hands on the transformation.

The back and forth dirty rotten scoudrel conversations carry a fair ounce of poetic flow to them and the writer deserves a nod for going all in here. When you make people this dirty and bad worth watching, notepads need to be full of observation. Letts and Friedkin create the situation and heighten the suspense only to let the actors fulfill the promise of their ambition.

All in all, Killer Joe is a mad bizarre yet original movie that promises an unpredictable urge to thrill. If you want something different and a dark yet funny ride this summer, go see Killer Joe. The movie moves quick, contains memorable moments, the performance of the year and an ending that leaves the audience with the task of tying the bow for themselves.

If this movie isn’t nominated for McConaughey’s performance or Letts’ screenplay, something is wrong with Hollywood and this man won’t be watching the ceremonies. Killer Joe reminds you of a time when Hollywood took risks with its filmmaking and when actors went on a limb in order to go for broke inside a performance. A time where fresh ideas dominated the cinema walls and not remakes and sequels. This movie is very good.

Excuse me, I need to go see it again because if you can’t beat one thing in this world it’s a sure thing.

Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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