Simon Killer (2012) dir Antonio Campos
Starring: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Michael Abiteboul, Constance Rousseau, Lila Salet, Solo
By Alan Bacchus
Just like with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Simon Killer is a film I can admire for its intense devotion to examining a despicable character. But it’s a film I have no desire to watch again.
Here, Simon (Brady Corbet) is more Tom Ripley than Henry, a charming rogue we know only from the lies he's been telling. Simon is introduced arriving in Paris where he is subletting a friend's apartment. After a breakup with his girlfriend, presumably because of her infidelity, he's ready to relax in the city of lights. He's immediately drawn to the red light district where he meets a stripper, gets a lap dance and a little bit more off the meter, and eventually forms a genuine relationship with the girl. Unfortunately, it's not an equal give-and-take. When he's not reciting his 'canned answers' and anecdotes, he's loafing on the relationship, moving into the girl’s flat, using her money and having crazy, crazy sex.
Simon crosses the thin line of decency when he conspires to extort money from the girl’s clients. It's just the start of a long descent into the depths of despair and, eventually, violence.
Campos' directorial style is very conscious of itself, playing out many of the scenes using long, slow extended takes with untraditional coverage and trendy European-style compositions. His musical choices, which capture the hypnotic effect of Parisian club music and new wave pop, add more cinematic hipness.
But this is Brady Corbet's film as much as it is Campos'. Campos rarely takes his camera away from Corbet, who exhibits the kind of naive charm and creepiness he showed in Michael Haneke's American Funny Games.
While the title is a bit of a misnomer, it certainly casts doubt on the intentions of the character. Simon is clearly a despicable human being. But like a car crash, it’s something we just can't take our eyes off.