Finding himself in considerable debt, Chris, a Texan drug dealer, decides the only solution is to murder his mother to collect the insurance money. Getting together with his father, the ex-husband of Chris' mother, they decide to hire Joe Cooper (a contract killer) who also happens to be a police detective. The plan is that the money will go to Chris' sister Dottie. However due to the size of the contract fee, Chris agrees that Joe can take Dottie as a retainer until the insurance comes through.
The unrated DVD retains the MPAA's NC-17 graphic at the end, although the rating was surrendered. See more »
The USA/Canada DVD is available in two versions, one the original NC-17 rated version (labeled as Unrated) and the other an R-Rated version. The R-Rated version has the following cuts:
1:25:27 (10.5 sec. cut) Sharla starts sucking at the chicken leg. Joe moans "Easy...easy."
1:25:42 (5.5 sec. cut) A cut to Carla, who is still sucking the chicken leg, is missing. The R-Rated shows the shot of Joe without interruption, lengthening it insignificantly.
1:25:49 (2.5 sec. cut) Joe asks Ansel in this shot "What do you think?". The R-Rated Version features the question from the off in the following shot of Ansel.
1:26:03 (Alternate Shot) The R-Rated shows Joe talking in a longer shot of himself and then an alternative shot of Ansel sitting down on the bench. The original features two shots from further away showing Sharla during her forced blow job. The Unrated Version runs a bit longer.
1:26:34 (11 sec. cut) The shot of Ansel can be seen a moment longer. Joe then asks twice: "Reach around and grab my ass!". Sharla obeys.
1:26:56 (Alternate Shot (No time difference)) The R-Rated Version mainly shows the shot of Joe longer and the alternative shot of Ansel before the shot from further away can be seen for a short time. The latter can be seen the whole time in the Unrated Version.
1:27:20 (Alternate Shot) The R-Rated Version shows the previous and following shots of Joe longer/earlier, whereas the Unrated cuts to a close-up of Sharla complying with Joe's demands and starting to moan.
1:37:30 (1 sec. cut) The shot starts a bit earlier with an additional (first) blow of the can against Chris' head.
1:37:33 (1.5 sec.) Another blow is missing.
1:37:41 (4.5 sec.) Joe beats Chris with the can three more times against the head and in the face, Chris spits out blood. Additional shot of Dottie screaming "Oh God!".
1:42:47 (No time difference) The MPAA overlays at the end differ display the different rating for the two versions.
Sometimes a performance in itself can boost a movies value and vault it into something spectacular, McConaughey provides the turbo to this otherwise solid but not groundbreaking vehicle of karmic retribution as Killer Joe. The movie itself has been said to be akin to Friedkin aping a Cohen crime caper and that description works. We have a crime masterminded by selfish, unintelligent and or quirky characters, we have the mid-west as our backdrop, and we have the metaphysical shadow of karma hovering over their every move throughout the film. Call it Cohen Brothers on whiskey. The characters themselves are all very stereotyped but I think Friedkin left that transparent enough. In other words, the stereotype was part of the wardrobe itself. The reason being is this is not about these characters in particular...this is about choices and consequences and Killer Joe is simply a vehicle of karmic arithmetic. All that aside, on any day, or in any movie, McConaughey's performance as Killer Joe is mesmerizing. He is the serpent...cold and dangerous but charming and in control, constantly. He weaves his restrained psychotic energy through the movie as if he was born to play this role. For as silly as this movie can be, this is a brutally adult movie. It is graphic and there is a barrel of bush in it. There is also an almost misogynistic undertone that I don't wish to defend one way or the other, but I will say that for the scenes to not play out as they did would be an injustice to the character that McConaughey plays. The cast all around is very solid. Thomas Haden Church is pretty terrific, Gershon is on point and I've never been happier to see her answer a door. Juno Temple is a lolita-ish young vixen who seems to be almost in a different plane of existence throughout the movie. This is a movie that will stick with you after it's over, the mark of a truly good movie. There's mechanics below the surface that have to be thought about and you have to discipline yourself for the eventual knee jerking that is bound to happen. Adults only. Would go well sandwiched between Blood Simple and No Country for Old Men.
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