Simon Killer (18)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner12/04/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Impressively directed and sharply written, this is a disturbing study in sociopathy with a compelling lead performance from Brady Corbet.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Antonio Campos, Simon Killer begins with American college graduate Simon (Brady Corbet) arriving in Paris and explaining to his cousin Carlo (Nicholas Ronchi) how he has just split up with his girlfriend of five years because she cheated on him.

After meeting in a seedy bar, Simon befriends prostitute Victoria (Mati Diop) and manipulates her into letting him move into her flat before cajoling her into videotaping and blackmailing some of her clients. At the same time, Simon's attentions are drawn to Marianne (Constance Rousseau), a young French woman he met on his first night in the city.

The Good
Actor Brady Corbet (Funny Games, Mysterious Skin) adds to his impressive roster of disturbed or disturbing characters with a terrific turn as sociopathic ex-student Simon, who's like a sleazier version of Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley. Initially we are sympathetic towards him as, like Carlo, we fall for his sob story, sense his loneliness and even root for him to connect with someone; however, as the film progresses, we begin to suspect that perhaps Simon isn't being entirely honest about his reasons for leaving America and we gradually fear for the people he meets.

Campos is clearly drawn to sociopaths as cinematic subjects, as evidenced by his previous film, Afterschool, which starred Ezra Miller as a student disconnected from those around him. Simon Killer works in a similar way, the camera following Corbet around with a Dardennes-like intimacy that is simultaneously compelling and unsettling; this is heightened by Campos' occasional use of coloured stroboscopic transitions between scenes, the sort of effect that ought to come with a warning against inducing possible nausea.

The Great
Campos generates an effectively tense atmosphere throughout and orchestrates a number of memorable sequences, including a masturbation scene that rivals Shame for its sheer discomfort. The script also does an excellent job of hiding the true extent of Simon's darkness, something that's offset with unexpected moments of humour, such as Simon running away in comedy fashion after he doesn't get the expected response from a would-be blackmail victim.

Worth seeing?
Simon Killer is a superbly acted, deeply unsettling drama that confirms writer-director Antonio Campos as an indie talent to watch. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Simon Killer (18)
Be the first to review Simon Killer...
01 20,000 Days on Earth (15)

Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue, Warren Ellis, Ray Winsto...

02 Guardians of the Galaxy (tbc)

Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel

03 I Am Divine (15)

Ricki Lake, John Waters, Divine

04 Pudsey The Dog: The Movie (U)

David Walliams, Olivia Colman

05 Love Me Till Monday (15)

Georgia Maguire, Sarah-Jayne Butler, Chris Leveaux...

Content updated: 29/07/2014 07:39

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Love Me Till Monday (15)

Georgia Maguire stars as a young woman disillusioned with the new world of work and the lack of Mr Right in her life.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.