Simon Killer Review
2013, 105 minutes
Simon Killer is the new film from the team behind 2011's excellent Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene and is written and directed by Antonio Campos. It stars Brady Corbet as Simon, a New Yorker living in Paris after a break-up. During the course of the film, Simon falls for a prostitute and his darker tendencies are revealed.
This is a film that could have been superb, but really wasn't due to a variety of factors. The biggest problem is that the film is extremely repetitive with an unsatisfying ending. The movie literally seems to go nowhere. There are only so many following shots and sex scenes that I can watch before I get bored. The excessive amount of shots that follow Simon around give the film the feel of a student film. In addition, while much of the rest of the camerawork is good, some of the long takes do not work well because they slow down the story. Michael Haneke used long takes to great effect in Amour, as did Steve McQueen in Shame, but in both of those stories, the directors wrote stories that needed to be told with extreme realism, thus justifying the use of long takes. Campos' story is not compelling enough to use these, which leads me to another problem.
Simon Killer should have been more twisted, more kinky, more violent. A dark story such as this one needed some energy, a jolt of something crazy, to keep it from being bland. There is certainly one scene that is kinky and bizarre, but there should have been more. This film does not penetrate enough into the character of Simon or give him enough to do to make him interesting.
That being said, the acting, particularly by Brady Corbet as Simon, is superb. Corbet captures the dark character of Simon perfectly. This is a character that easily could have been overplayed, but Corbet's subtlety makes this a creepy, memorable portrayal.
Much of this film's cinematography and the soundtrack are also great. Aside from the repetitive nature of some of the shots, many of them are well-framed and beautifully lit with bright colors. The electric soundtrack also makes some of the scenes in this bland film stand out.
Overall, Simon Killer is not a bad film. It certainly isn't good, but it does have enough redeeming elements to keep it from being a complete failure. I simply like a little more probing into characters and a more of a compelling story when viewing a movie. Simon Killer will have a limited release on April 5.