It’s not just films like Southland Tales—the shoot-the-moon disasters—that deserve disdain. Superficially psychological dramas like David Mackenzie’s Mister Foe can be just as sloppy, pretentiously titillating, and falsely representative of human behavior as a pseudo-irreverent cult flailing like Richard Kelly’s phonyfest, one of the worst films of the decade. Off the top of my head I can’t remember the last time a film as outright preposterous as Mister Foe, the latest from would-be Scottish provocateur Mackenzie, also demanded to be taken so seriously.
When a friend came back fuming from Pan’s Labyrinth she set about to recount each of its stupidities point by point, a strategy of debunking its claims to significance via the mere recitation of its cockamamie plot. The same can be done for Mister Foe. So, yeah, spoilers ahead. In adapting Peter Jinks’s novel, Mackenzie and cowriter Ed Whitmore follow the sexual maturation of Hallam Foe (the film’s UK title) from stunted, fixated adolescent to experienced, oedipal-exorcised man. The casting of Jaime Bell in the title role is a clever ploy to evoke real-life parallels, with articles-cum-publicity-materials already beginning to champion the erstwhile Billy Elliot’s ability to explore his “dark side.” We know Hallam is “dark” because the film opens with him spying on a young couple in the woods near his tree house—where he keeps a journal on his voyeurized prey, and where he worships at a shrine created for his late mother—before descending on them in a hat made from a raccoon and a face covered with sub-Marilyn Manson makeup (lipstick circles around nipples, et al.)
Click here to read the rest of Michael Joshua Rowin’s review of Mister Foe.