Killer Joe (2011) – Film Review

movie-matthew-mcconaughey review killer joe

Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple
Rating: 18

by Dan Berlinka

William Friedkin’s second collaboration with playwright Tracy Letts has the same strengths as their earlier psychological thriller Bug. There are terrific performances, raw dialogue and empathy for its desperate characters.

It’s true that we have been here before. But the noirish twists, economical storytelling and inspired casting compensate for any sense of familiarity. And Killer Joe is certainly not without some surprises, the biggest of which is probably Matthew McConaughey. His rattlesnake mix of Southern gentility and cold-blooded violence is a revelation.

killer joe film review mcconnaughey

“Certainly not a comfortable watch”

Although there is excellence all round from Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple and (particularly outstanding) Thomas Haden Church.

It’s certainly not a comfortable watch – the treatment of the female characters occasionally edges towards the exploitative. There’s a slight worry early on that we may be embarking on a kind of poverty tourism. And there’s a moment of grotesquery that jars, not only because it’s shocking, but because it strains credulity.

Nonetheless, overall it’s a disturbingly effective detour to the dark side and (especially for fans of films in a Blue Velvet or Blood Simple vein) one that is well worth taking.


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