Matthew McConaughey has made some interesting career choices of late. For too long – essentially all of the noughties – McConaughey concentrated on making terrible romantic comedies, but now he’s turned his back on them to concentrate on meatier roles in smaller films.
First came The Lincoln Lawyer, and soon he’ll be seen in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, thriller The Paperboy and war movie Thunder Run. But first there’s Killer Joe. Directed by William Friedkin, Killer Joe is ostensibly a dark crime thriller about a warped police officer turned hitman. Can McConaughey pull off this change of direction, or will he revert back to the comfortable tropes of the romcom? Let’s pick through the Killer Joe trailer for clues:
1) Well, this is encouraging. Our first real look at Matthew McConaughey as Killer Joe, and he looks determined to take this seriously. He’s moody, nervous and paranoid. Perhaps a little too fond of cowboy get-up, but we can probably let that slide for now.
2) However, soon we’re introduced to Juno Temple. This could go terribly wrong for a romcom stalwart like McConaughey but, judging by her unconventional dress sense and scraggly hair – not to mention that awful dreamcatcher hung on the lamp – she’s more “quirky best friend” than “primary love interest”. Phew.
3) If Killer Joe was a romcom, then this would be the bit where he goes to visit his buddies for an unusually frank chat about his feelings. But Killer Joe isn’t a romcom and, even though he appears to be visiting some friends here, it’s more likely that he’s talking about murder or extortion or death or whatever.
4) But then Juno Temple starts dancing to herself in the street, all backlit by the sun. If Killer Joe was a romcom, this would spell trouble – it’d probably be followed by a shot of Matthew McConaughey falling for her childlike naivety. But Killer Joe isn’t a romcom, so it’ll obviously be followed by something much darker.
5) Oh nuts. I take all that back. Turns out the next shot really is of Matthew McConaughey falling for her childlike naivety. Killer Joe has tried its hardest, but McConaughey just can’t resist falling back on his old romcom impulses. This is going to be How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days all over again.
6) But the course of true love won’t run all that smoothly, because Juno Temple looks like she’s already entangled with Emile Hirsch, a man who shares her love for walking down railway tracks while looking like she’s been severely beaten. So now McConaughey has to prove his love for Juno Temple. But how? By appearing at her front door with a series of placards that express his feelings? By chasing her to an airport right before her flight leaves?
7) Nope. He just pays some burly-looking biker chaps to beat Emile Hirsch up in an alley. Classic.
8) It worked, too. Smacking Hirsch to a pulp has paved the way for romance. Now McConaughey and Temple can have a cosy candlelit dinner, realise that true love can cross all manner of social boundaries and get married in a montage at the end of the film to the strains of This Will Be an Everlasting Love by Natalie Cole.
9) Oh, hang on, a car’s blown up. This didn’t happen in Maid in Manhattan. Or Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, for that matter.
10) And now Juno Temple has ditched Matthew McConaughey in favour of a tiny lizard. Look, I’ll level with you. I really have no idea of what’s going on here. Killer Joe is either the best romcom ever, the worst romcom ever or not even a romcom at all. You’re on your own with this one.
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