It's funny to think that back to when Matthew McConaughey's acting career really start to take off in the '90s: he was aspiring to be a serious character actor with roles in films like Lone Star, A Time to Kill, Contact, and Amistad; that was before he made a string of forgettable rom-coms (The Wedding Planner, Failure to Launch, etc.) and duds like Sahara and Fool's Good, prompting endless jokes about him being little more than male eye candy.
That's all to say: McConaughey has recently gotten back in the habit of tackling more challenging roles in films like The Lincoln Lawyer, Precious director Lee Daniels' The Paperboy - and Killer Joe, a darkly comical, neo-Noir flick directed by Oscar-winner William Friedkin (The Exorcist), which premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival.
Killer Joe is based on the play by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Letts (who also penned the script), wherein a young man named Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) conspires with his father Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church) and sister Dottie (Juno Temple) to kill his mother, so as to use her life insurance policy to pay off a debt to a local Texan drug lord. Enter Joe Cooper (McConaughey), a Dallas cop who moonlights as a contract killer.
Since Chris cannot pay Joe upfront, the sociopathic police officer takes Dottie away (re: hostage), as a retainer to ensure that he's paid for his services. It should go without saying: things don't work out so well for all involved parties.
Killer Joe comes saddled with an NC-17 Rating for "graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality." The trailer footage certainly alludes to an unpleasant, twisted tale of underhanded deeds, violence and sex, with a storyline that mixes elements from titles like the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple and Danny DeVito's Throw Momma from the Train (a weird mix, for sure). Obviously, mainstream appeal isn't is the cards for this film - but does it still look like it has something to offer?
McConaughey jokes aside, he has demonstrated a knack for playing coiled psychopaths in the past (see: Frailty) and appears to be pitch-perfect for the part of Joe - in terms of both mannerisms and physical appearance. Still, there's reason to suspect that the dark machinations in Killer Joe could eventually slide off the rails - mainly because of Friedkin's mixed output over the past decade (Rules of Engagement, The Hunted, Bug) - but also because word from those who have seen Killer Joe is that it is pretty lukewarm overall.
Killer Joe is slated to begin a (very) limited theatrical release in the U.S. on July 27th, 2012.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers