Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2011. Voltage Pictures, Picture Perfect Corporation, Worldview Entertainment, ANA Media. Screenplay by Tracy Letts, based on his play. Cinematography by Caleb Deschanel. Produced by Nicolas Chartier, Scott Einbinder. Music by Tyler Bates. Production Design by Franco-Giacomo Carbone. Costume Design by Peggy A. Schnitzer. Film Editing by Darrin Navarro. Independent Spirit Awards 2012. North Carolina Film Critics Awards 2012. Toronto International Film Festival 2011.
William Friedkin follows Bug with another Tracy Letts play that lays the white-trash aesthetic on a bit too thick but is compelling nonetheless. When Emile Hirsch tells dad Thomas Haden Church that his estranged mother is worth plenty in life insurance, they put their lives into the hands of a hired assassin (Matthew McConaughey) who takes the job of getting rid of her on condition of a retainer: he wants to have his way with little sister Juno Temple, a doe-eyed teenager on the brink of lethal Lolitadom. Do things ever go according to plan in movies about financially motivated murders? Not really, and there are delights to enjoy here between the rich characterizations and the dastardly plotting that throws new surprises out at every turn. What really make it zing, however, are the superb performances, particularly McConaughey at the pinnacle of his renaissance as the terrifying and morally dubious but compellingly attractive cowboy who turns out to be the most sympathetic of the bunch. Gina Gershon appears in a brilliant turn as the wily stepmother with a few tricks up her own sleeve, while Church looks on with bewildered, idiotic passivity as only he can do so well. It’s a dirty, nasty little film, brimming over with gory violence and some unforgettably terrible abuse of fast food chicken, but one you won’t be sorry to watch right through to the end.