Simon Killer Screen 11 articles

Simon Killer

2012

Simon Killer Poster
  • Confirms Campos as a world-class filmmaker, this time with an emphasis on jarring rhythm rather than creeping stasis; multiple cuts took my breath away, especially during the generally excellent "first act" (for lack of a better designation), featuring Simon alone. Once women are introduced, however, the film makes a hugely disappointing nosedive into indie cliché, subdivision Ineffectual Masculinity As Steadily Mounting Horror Show.

  • Even at its most affecting (an uncomfortably extended nightclub sequence scored to LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean" is an illuminatingly hellish vision of heedless abandon), Simon Killer rarely seems like more than a cinema-du-Gaspar-Noé simulacrum. The languorous long-takes, dissociative sound design and strobe-light scene transitions meant to mirror this emotional con artist’s skewed view of the world are anxiety-of-influence hand-me-downs through and through—viscera without vision.

  • Campos overzealously frustrates his viewers' need to understand what motivates Simon and Marianne. He only shows viewers as much as he feels is necessary for any given scene. It's equally hard to watch Simon wander around Paris, as we're constantly reminded that we are seeing events through a strictly-maintained aesthetic filter. Campos combines partial, behind-the-back views of Simon with a blaring electronic soundtrack only serves to over-emphasize the film's constricted point of view.

  • The issue is that, despite his innate skill at piecing together a narrative, Campos continues to stand on the shoulders of art-house giants. His visual style is a mélange of pieces borrowed from some of today’s most well-known auteurs, with the grueling body politics of Haneke crossed with flourishes nicked from Gus Van Sant.

  • As sensually rich as it is, full of eye-candy color and smartly chosen pop music (one of Simon's seductions is set in a club, to LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yourself Clean") and flashily ambitious filmmaking, Simon Killer is an embodiment of, and comment on, cinema as a manipulation of the eye and the brain. Plus, it effectively deflates the mechanics of male sexual compulsion without any of the martyr bullshit of Shame.

  • [If] Simon Killer is a flawed, imperfect film, then so be it. It's also a formally assured one, and never less than riveting... [The film] walks a thin line between ambiguity and an outright muddle. But we've unquestionably gained something from watching Antonio Campos' ideas come into focus and slide back out again.

  • Writer-director Antonio Campos has done a strange thing with his movie's ominously foreshadowing title, letting the threat of Simon's violence settle from the start in the audience's mind before toying continuously with whether it's all just a clever red herring. In tone and plot, Simon Killer has many elements of a thriller, but ultimately Campos's interest lies much more in profiling, yet never over-determining, his moody protagonist.

  • It's a rich film, but not a particularly pleasurable one. It's nihilistic sense of pessimism at times feels laboured and Simon's increasingly bizarre decision-making process gradually becomes dictated by the inexorable death-spiral narrative. Campos has tallent to burn, and even though this film lacks the squalid subtleties of Afterschool, it's still makes for a bleak drama about the practice of looking for love in all the wrong places.

  • Though the film’s ice-cold blend of the cerebral and the atavistic can be off-putting, it enables a queasy portrait of moral disengagement that lingers long after Simon has slipped from the screen.

  • This film is very different in approach and style from “Afterschool,” but demonstrates every bit as much command of the technical side of cinema. Every shot, every line of dialogue, every musical cue and every snippet of ambient sound has been considered, and is there for a reason.

  • Judging by the relatively high number of walkouts I witnessed during the press screening, the film manages to touch a raw nerve and will undoubtedly be deemed "pretentious" by some. I found it stunningly daring, refreshingly adventurous, and impossible to shake off, firmly establishing Campos as the new master of consciously hyper-crafted, dead-serious cine-angst.

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