The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

That chicken bone

with 21 comments

Killer Joe 1I can’t stand to watch Lolita acts in movies.

No matter how you try to disguise it with some excuse about how “it’s on her terms” or “she’s above the lawful age limit” I think it’s exploitative and cynical and not that far off from child pornography. I’m not against showing teenagers as sexual beings; but when you show them in situations with me that are old enough to be their parents or grandparents and when it’s related as something enjoyable, with a voyeuristic camera, it’s just creepy.

Coming from this I should logically have hated Killer Joe here the young and innocent Dotty is offered by her own family to a hit man as a retainer until he gets full payment for a murder he’s hired to perform. Especially a seduction scene between him and her, where her “no”, “no”, “no” eventually turns into some kind of “yes” is extremely disturbing. But somehow, and I can’t quite explain how, the film managed to make me overlook this. I think the thing is that it’s so dark and twisted that my normal moral compass doesn’t apply anymore.

Right from the start when the young Chris shares his plan to have his mother murdered to get money from a life insurance, it’s evident that nothing that happens in the movie should be taken too seriously. And this is what makes it so good. Without the black comedic element I wouldn’t have liked it half as much; as a matter of fact I think it would have been unwatchable as a pure drama thriller. But as it is now, everything is just so weird and appalling that it tips over: rather than feeling sorry for this extraordinarily dysfunctional family, you shrug it off and laugh at them.

Apart from being darker and funnier than anything I’ve seen in a long time, I also need to mention something about the acting. There are several good performances, but the one who stands out is Matthew McConaughey, who is extraordinary as the hired killer: evil, menacing and yet somehow charming. It’s an act to remember, as is the scene with the chicken bone. You who have seen it know what I mean. It won’t go away anytime soon.

Good for me that I’ve always preferred the breast.

Killer Joe (William Friedkin, US 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 6, 2013 at 1:00 am

Posted in Killer Joe

21 Responses

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  1. First, let me say that I liked Killer Joe, too.

    Second, I’m not sure you got the same version of the movie in Sweden that we got in the U.S. The version I saw established that she was in her early 20s, had had sex before, and never said “no” to him – hardly a lolita by any standard. It simply showed her being a little shy about starting the act with him the very first time, as most women would be when approaching a near-stranger.

    Chip Lary

    January 6, 2013 at 5:48 am

    • I have to assume we get the same version. Perhaps I didn’t pay enough attention, perhaps it’s my motherly instincts that lead me wrong, but to me the girl appeared not to be a day older than 15 and is presented as a virgin. The fact that the actress is older doesn’t make a difference. But again: maybe her age was stated and I missed it out.

      As far as I could tell she definitely said no repeatedly on the “date” where she first refused to wear that sexy dress for him and then was talked into changing to it, where he used his authority at his advantage, still hinting to the audience that “this is what she really wants”. I just hate to see that kind of acts with young girls being used as sex objects for older men with various excuses.

      But apart from this disagreement, let’s remember that we’re on the same page: we’re both fans of the movie.


      January 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

      • You’re right; it sounds like we saw the same version. I misunderstood your original post; I thought you meant she was saying no to sex, not saying no to wearing the dress.

        For what it’s worth, it was her father that she repeatedly said no to in regards to wearing the dress (perhaps because she thought he was going to try something with her). Joe at first tries to be sweet and asks her to put it on. When she doesn’t respond one way or the other he finally tells her he wants her to go put it on for him and she does. When he puts her hand on his equipment she says something to the effect that it’s bigger than the other ones she’s experienced – meaning that she’s had sex before (again, perhaps with her father, or more likely with her brother based on his reactions to her sexual relationship with Joe). I can’t remember a specific line from a character about her exact age, other than her brother saying it was long past time that she was “old enough” when he was trying to rationalize giving her to Joe. In one of the extras on the DVD I do remember the director specifically referring to her as 21.

        You were perhaps estimating her as younger because she was still living with her father and stepmother, but that was because the family is poor. Her brother still lives with his mother and he’s definitely an adult. It’s pretty common in the U.S. for this to happen when families don’t have much money.

        Chip Lary

        January 7, 2013 at 1:56 am

  2. But is the Lolita act still a problem if its supposed to play a part in the movie, so to speak? If the movie makes it clear that it’s not ok with the no-no-no’s that inevitably turns into yes’s? For me, these kinds of characters or scenes are no problem as long as the movies does not try to make them look like something that is to be expected or natural.


    January 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

    • This film has a few twists, which I try not to reveal here. But I’d say that it doesn’t condemn the Lolita act. It seems rather natural or okish compared to other things going on here. Again: the whole thing is so dark and strange and yet somehow funny that my normal ethical compass stops functioning.

      My sensitivity for Lolita acts is more on a general level. It’s just a thing I don’t like to see in movies, especially not when it’s not clear that there’s anything wrong about it.


      January 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

  3. That image is forever and ever burned in my head. And there is nothing good about it.


    January 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm

  4. A good but not so comfortable movie to watch, at the same time it´s kind of funny in a twisted way.


    January 7, 2013 at 1:32 am

    • Yeah, I definitely saw it as a dark, twisted comedy. Taken seriously it would be questionable.


      January 7, 2013 at 7:06 pm

  5. I haven’t yet had a chance to write on Killer Joe on my own blog, but your review is pretty much spot-on with mind Jessica. I would recommend this film, but with the caveat that the film is extremely disturbing….

    Karl Kaefer

    January 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    • Cheers! I can imagine this is something you like. We tend to agree quite a bit, particularly about sci-fi/fantasy and about twisted movies.


      January 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

  6. The seduction scene was not an easy scene to watch. Thought Juno Temple did an excellent job in her portrayal of the very naive, young woman. But felt it was a little too good, you know?

    A solid film – well crafted and acted, but not one I’ll be wanting to revisit any time soon if at all.


    January 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    • It was indeed uncomfortable. Not sure if it’s a motherly thing. Perhaps I wouldn’t be as distressed by it if I was a young man.
      I can’t say I’m in any hurry to revisit it either. Though I really liked it, in a twisted way.


      January 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm

  7. […] Killer Joe This was a very disturbing movie that I’m not in a hurry to see again, but I liked the dark, twisted humour for reasons that I can’t explain. […]

  8. Spot-on review of this brilliant film. I loved it and it’s one of my favorites of the year. McConaughey was fantastic!


    January 10, 2013 at 8:17 am

    • Thans Fernando! I agree he was excellent I wouldn’t have minded him getting an Oscar nomination.


      January 11, 2013 at 12:45 am

      • I would’ve loved that but the movie was too dark and dirty for the Academy, I think.


        January 11, 2013 at 12:48 am

  9. “Good for me that I’ve always preferred the breast.” LOL. Nice line Jessica. Very nice review as well. This is probably the most disturbing film of 2012 but I couldn’t take my eyes off it and absolutely loved it. McConaughey was outstanding. Hopefully this is the start of better things from him.

    Mark Walker

    February 26, 2013 at 11:01 am

    • He did some really great performances last year. I loved him in Magic Mike as well. It’s wonderful to see actors breathing new life into their careers like he has.


      February 26, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      • Haven’t got around to Magic Mike yet but he was also really good in Bernie. Lets hope its the start of better things from him. Ive always rated him but it was hard to sing his praises when he kept on delivering nonsense

        Mark Walker

        February 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm

        • Magic Mike was great fun. He astonished me with some really great dance moves. 🙂


          February 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm

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