'Killer Joe' a walk on the wild side

Matthew McConaughey plays Joe Cooper in 'Killer Joe.'

Matthew McConaughey plays Joe Cooper in 'Killer Joe.'

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:58 PM ET

Some movies prompt contemplative thought, some lead to flights of fancy, others lend themselves to strong emotional expression. The movie Killer Joe mostly makes you want to go home and have a shower.

Based on the play by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Tracy Letts, Killer Joe is the story of an errant son, a hired gun, a big insurance policy and betrayal all around.

Somewhere in a trailer park in Texas, Chris (Emile Hirsch) owes a lot of money to the sort of people who take limbs in lieu of interest. To pay his debt and save his hide, Chris has a plan: get his mom killed and collect her insurance. The beneficiary on the insurance policy is Chris' little sister, the aptly named Dottie (Juno Temple). In the midst of the ignorance and chaos that is her home, Dottie is a sweet and innocent, if vacant, little ray of sunshine.

Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a detective from Dallas who does a little contract killing on the side. He and Chris make a deal to get rid of Chris' mother, but there's a deposit required, and Chris has no money. Joe decides he'll take Dottie as collateral. He may be a cold-blooded killer, but Joe has fallen hard for little Dottie.

This arrangement doesn't sit entirely well with Chris and Dottie's father (Thomas Haden Church) or stepmother (Gina Gershon), but what the heck -- the sooner mom is dead, the sooner there'll be money coming in.

But even the best-laid plans...

Killer Joe is one of the darkest, funniest and crudest combos of drama and madness to come down the pike in a long time. This is sick and twisted at its imaginative best, and you laugh at it the very same way you laugh at material like Pulp Fiction -- secretly wondering at the same time if it means there's something fundamentally wrong with you.

Killer Joe involves killer performances from all concerned, but particularly from McConaughey, who is reptilian in his portrayal of a calm, mannerly, murderous pervert. Jolly fun! But just so we're clear, Killer Joe is a walk on the wild side that has earned the movie an NC-17 rating in America, the same rating slapped on films such as Blue Valentine and Bully. There is no NC-17 rating in Canada, but the basic equivalent here would be, "Don't miss it."


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