“I don’t know how it goes either, but I understand you could maybe show the same film, same guys but different day, where there’s enough levity along the way in the middle of the most violent stuff. It felt like an R to me, last night. It’s got enough of a wink to not be an NC-17,” Matthew McConaughey told us earlier this week at SXSW, about the harsh rating for “Killer Joe.” But it appears the conservative bunch at the MPAA didn’t see the wink.
The filmmakers recently appealed the crippling rating, and once again, the MPAA came back with the NC-17 stamp for the film. Citing “graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality” as the reasons for the rating, we think this probably all boils down to the absolutely nuts climactic scene, which we won’t describe for you here, but needless to say it’s severely uncomfortable, yet also absurdly humorous. In fact, the entire tone of “Killer Joe” is pitch black, wavering between comedy and noir; it’s a film that wholly and hugely embraces all of its B-movie grime, so to a degree, we understand why the fussbodies at the MPAA simply don’t get it.
But this decision severely hobbles commercial prospects for the movie, though the rating will probably wind up making more people want to see it out of sheer curiosity. But small, independent films like this live or die on finding an audience, and this is a bit of a devastating blow. And it’s a double shame because this is the most electric piece of filmmaking William Friedkin has done in years, featuring a knockout performance by Matthew McConaughey who commits incredibly bravely to a character far outside anything we’ve seen him do before.
“Killer Joe” may not be headed to a theater near you (many chains won’t carry a movie with an NC-17 rating) but do what you can to track it down. [Deadline]