Simon Killer is a nice-looking indie film focusing on an ugly American going through an ugly time in his life. Viewers who thrive on bummer character studies might embrace the pretense flowing through Antonio Campos’ picture, but many others will wonder just what the point is with all this ugliness. While the picture hints at a head trip, by the time audiences are forced to watch the lead character sadly masturbate to French Internet porn (we have to assume it’s because he’s in France) after multiple scenes of him bogged down in self-hate -- all within the first 20 minutes -- the signs point to Simon Killer not being a great time at the cinema.
The movie opens with Simon (Brady Corbet) just getting into Paris after a whirlwind breakup with his girlfriend. Staying at his cousin’s empty apartment, the PhD grad finds solace in walking the streets by day and bragging to his ex via e-mail about all the great times he’s having by night. This changes when he visits a brothel and meets Victoria (Mati Diop), a hooker who takes pity on him and offers to put him up at her place after a few meetings outside of her work. Soon the two are inseparable, and in a drug-fueled fit of jealousy, the freeloading Simon talks Victoria into blackmailing her customers so that she can get enough money to leave this life behind. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Simon puts them both in danger.
Campos, a producer on Martha Marcy May Marlene (also starring Corbet), has, by design, crafted a sexual film without an ounce of sexiness. The intimate nature of the movie is off-putting, and yes, ugly. Simon is a beast of a jerk, warranting no sympathy for his actions, which, as blaringly disgusting as they are, never seem to build to a crescendo. At times the film feels like it’s crawling into thriller territory, but then it just lumbers along some more, failing to offer enough spark to justify its laborious -- and harsh -- journey. There’s a small audience for Simon Killer, but it’s one who will most likely enjoy the challenge of the piece and not really the piece itself.
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- Released: 2011
- Review: Simon Killer is a nice-looking indie film focusing on an ugly American going through an ugly time in his life. Viewers who thrive on bummer character studies might embrace the pretense flowing through Antonio Campos’ picture, but many others will wonder ju… (more)