Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Simon Killer: Really Ugly American in Paris
is a strange marketing strategy to make a film’s title a spoiler. Still, it certainly has a better ring than “Simon
Pathetic Misogynist Loser,” even if it is not necessarily more accurate. Either way, it is safe to assume there will
be some rather twisted dealings in Atonio Campos’s Simon Killer (trailer
opens today in New York at the IFC Center.
clearly likes to play the victim, especially in the wake of his break-up with
his longtime girlfriend. However, it
quickly becomes apparent he is a master manipulator with a fair share of sexual
hang-ups and character flaws. Having
recently finished grad school, he is visiting Paris in hopes of getting over
the woman he still compulsively e-mails.
It takes viewers about two seconds to realize there is a very good
reason she gave him the heave-ho. By
then, Simon has taken up with his favorite Pigalle prostitute, Victoria,
despite the rather embarrassing start to their professional relationship.
up with Simon is not a good idea. It
will lead to some reckless schemes and a whole lot of pain, before his eye
starts to wander. She should let him go. After all, there is really nothing attractive
about the free-loading creep.
Unfortunately, logical behavior is in short supply throughout Killer.
is typically a rather un-cinematic activity, even in films intended to inspire
the same. Yet, Campos takes it to a
whole new level of ickiness in Killer. After watching this film, most viewers will
want to stand under a nuclear reactor
industrial shower after shooting up a syringe of penicillin. Clearly, Campos equates seediness with avant-garde
edginess, but here it is really just lurid self-indulgence.
the title character, Brady Corbet’s Byronic hipster routine gets old
quickly. Mati Diop brings an intriguing
presence to the film as Victoria, but it is impossible to understand how she
could fall for Simon’s dubious charms from the film’s dramatic context. Frankly, we have seen this all before, right
down to the maddeningly ambiguous conclusion—a last ditch effort to rattle
viewers, which is really just a narrative cop-out.
There are some nice supporting turns in Killer, most notably Constance Rousseau as
a pretty but somewhat vulnerable young woman, who nonetheless possesses basic
human powers of perception. Indeed, the
fact Simon does not set off more alarm bells, particularly with a professional
like Victoria, is a real head-scratcher.
While far from perfect, Alexandra McGuinness’s Lotus Eaters is still a considerably more satisfying portrait of
aimless, morally problematic youth.
Aesthetically unpleasant and credibility-challenged, Simon Killer is not recommended when it
opens today (4/5) in New York at the IFC Center.
Labels: Antonio Campos