Killer Joe: movie review

Neil Smith
Killer Joe(E1 Entertainment)
Matthew McConaughey plays a killer for hire in this sleazily compelling tale of trailer trash up to no good.
Release date: 29 June 2012 Certificate: 18 Director: William Friedkin Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple
What's the story?
Neck-deep in debt, Texan wastrel Chris (Hirsch) decides to have his mother killed for her insurance money. But the assassin (McConaughey) demands he offer up his sister (Temple) as collateral.
What did we think?
Five ace performances and some killer lines make this lurid tale as grimly fascinating as it is violently unpleasant. And while William Friedkin can't conceal the material's theatrical origins, the single-set claustrophobia works in the favour of a thriller about characters trapped in a cage entirely of their own making.
Based on the hit stage play by Tracy Letts (who's a man in case you were wondering), Killer Joe marks a double comeback. First, it constitutes a welcome return to form for William Friedkin, a director who's done little of note since wowing the 70s with The French Connection and The Exorcist. Secondly, it's a superb opportunity for Matthew McConaughey to put all those sappy rom-coms behind him and remind us what a fine actor lurks behind the abs.
We will see more of his pecs shortly in male stripper yarn Magic Mike. Here, though, he largely remains clothed as a corrupt lawman who moonlights as a killer if the price is right. When hired to off a family member by a desperate Emile Hirsch, his deadbeat dad (Thomas Haden Church) and the latter's trampy spouse (Gina Gershon), the price includes teenage hottie Dottie (Britain's Juno Temple, entirely convincing as a flighty naïf). Yet nothing's quite as it seems in a very black comedy already notorious for its unconventional use of a Kentucky Fried drumstick.
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