A sinister, smartly shot dramatic thriller starring Brady Corbet and Mati Diop
Antonio Campos follows his striking debut Afterschool with another cinematic punch to the gut. Simon Killer is a film which chills and confounds. Featuring a complex performance from Brady Corbet (Funny Games, Melancholia), it signposts its protagonist's sinister potential from the outset, casting a dark cloud over the story. Simon Killer follows the journey of one young man from feckless, alienated college graduate to a Tom Ripley-esque manipulator.
Simon (Corbet) is an American in Paris, recovering from a messy break-up and still pestering his ex. Wandering the streets, he's suckered into a nearby strip-joint-come-brothel. It's there that he has a close encounter with Victoria (Mati Diop - best known for her performance in Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum) and the two enter into a relationship of sorts. Simon has a credible ordinariness and yet he's a man shrouded in mystery - can he really be capable of what the title suggests? Yes he lies and cheats, but there are moments of vulnerability too and he often fails to assert himself as a physical presence.
The smartly shot Simon Killer is an exercise in manipulation. It rarely lets us forget that we're the voyeurs here - presenting us with all manner of clandestine camera angles, stalking its protagonist, or framing characters as if via a hidden camera. And when Simon is drawn into criminality, these directorial choices come back to haunt us. Although it allows us to delve surreptitiously into Simon's life, this is a film which embraces uncertainty and the impossibility of truly knowing another person. It boasts a fabulously subversive soundtrack which both undercuts tension and cultivates unease. Simon Killer eschews easy answers and obvious characterisation and it's all the more impressive because of it.
Limited release from Fri 12 Apr.