Killer Joe 2012 ***


More evidence of the formidable talents of Matthew McConaughey, before his Dallas Buyers Club Oscar triumph, William Friedkin takes the reins of this adaptation of Tracey Letts’ play, refashioned by the same author. McConaughey plays Joe, a killer hired by Chris (Emile Hirsch) to bump off his mother Sharla (Gina Gershon). He teams up with her ex (Thomas Hayden Chruch) to do so, but when hired gun Joe arrives, he makes a hard bargain with them, and seems more interested in Sharla’s daughter Dottie (Juno Temple). Killer Joe is partly a Coen-brothers screw-twister, as bad plans provoke bad things to happen to bad people, but it deepens to become a story of sexual sadism and an unpleasant power-struggle between characters with nothing to lose on their precipitous moral decent. The cast are uniformly excellent, but McConaughey hits the heights as Joe; the notorious KFC-eating scene is intensely disturbing, but hard to take your eyes off. Killer Joe is strong meat for those who can take its amoral viciousness in their stride, and a welcome return to form for Friedkin.


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