2 1/2 stars
There's a reason
His is no white-hat role, and both he and the movie are the better for it.
McConaughey is in the midst of a career revival, leaving behind the brainless, lightweight charmers he played in a string of flimsy romantic comedies to portray more complicated, morally challenged, middle-aged guys in films like "Magic Mike" and "The Lincoln Lawyer."
He takes on his darkest role yet in "Joe," playing with mesmerizing authority the title character, Killer Joe Cooper, a
"Killer Joe" is set deep in trailer-park territory.
Ansel is at first reluctant, and Chris attempts to persuade him. "Look at it this way: Is she doing anybody any good?" Chris asks of his own mother.
The plan is set in motion, with Joe taking sexual custody of the teenage daughter as a retainer payment until the insurance money comes through. Things only get more complicated from there, with Joe slowly taking on the role of paterfamilias to this exceedingly dysfunctional clan, plus double-crosses galore and an eye-popping, pseudo-sex-scene with a poultry part, which earned the film itsNC-17 rating.
"Killer Joe" is based on a 1993 play by
Friedkin keeps the energy level high, reveling unapologetically in the film's roll-in-the-mud aesthetic. One gets the feeling that his attitude is if viewers are shocked or turned off by all this slime, that's their problem.
The movie, toward the end, sometimes betrays its stage roots as it begins to feel cramped and confined. And when all the shouting and violence -- and there's plenty of it -- is finally over, "Joe" doesn't really add up to much other than seeing just how down and dirty it can get.
Hirsch, Church and Gershon all give committed, in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound performances, often mining humor in their characters' increasing desperation. But, ultimately, their characters are just too cartoony to be believable, the sitcom versions of the true bleak desperadoes one finds in a
The exception would be McConaughey's chilling Killer Joe. You never, ever want to actually meet this guy in real life, but it's a scary thrill to watch him on a screen.
MPAA rating: NC-17 (for graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality).
Running time: 1:42.
Credits: Directed by
"Killer Joe" Movie Trailer
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