The Killing of John Lennon ***1/2
Written and Directed by Andrew Piddington
This Film Is Not Yet Rated-Probably R for violence and language.
"The Killing of John Lennon" is a kind of cross between "Taxi Driver" and "The Assassination of Richard Nixon." It is also the second John Lennon film in the last year, the first being "The U.S. vs John Lennon," which I never saw. While that film told Lennon's story about what he did, "The Killing of John Lennon" describes the results of that. Mark David Chapman was fed up with life, living in Hawaii in the 80's with his wife that he probably doesn't really love. One day Chapman came across "The Catcher in the Rye" and was completely enaromed in the story, believing that the story was really about him. Chapman eventually comes to the conclusion that he is Holden Caulfield and goes on a quest to get rid of the biggest phony around-John Lennon. The man that promotes anti-materialism and yet has numerous houses and other things. Chapman travels to New York and begins waiting outside Lennon's apartment for his chance.
"The Killing of John Lennon" does not provide sympathy for Chapman. Unlike "The Assassiantion of Richard Nixon," we don't even get the chance to watch the man slowly fall down. He had already fallen. Instead we get to study the pathology of this man-we see him get ready to do it, and than change his mind at the last minute. And then he was driven to do it again. And the success of the film clearly comes from Jonas Ball, who plays Chapman, virtually being in every single frame of the film. Ball has this naturally appareance on screen, drifting from the somewhat charming to the completely insane. The close-ups are actually frightening. This is an interesting film to watch. It also gave me some knowledge on Chapman, who I did not know much about at all. I always heard that "The Catcher in the Rye" was a book for serial killers, but I did not know where that concept came from. "The Killing of John Lesson" is a fascinating film, well acted and well written. Before the film there is a disclaimer saying that "All of Chapman's words are his own." This is important because its clear the amount of research that went into the film-with actual testimonials. And it clear that Piddington really wanted to get into Chapman's head, which he does well. At a Q and A after the film, Piddington declared that he never met Chapman and never wanted to because of his manipulative nature, and his ability to speak to the press. While I think meeting him would have made the research complete, to each his own. Mad at Chapman or not, this is fine film making.
On a side note, there is also a lot of editing that needs to be done. Piddington said that this was the first print that they made on the film, and it is shows. While the film is supposed to be set in the 80's, there is a scene where Chapman is in a cab and billboards reflecting on the windsheld advertise such films as "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," and "Shrek 2." I really don't think that those films were around in the 80's.