The Killing Of John Lennon (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/12/2007

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Meticulously directed, frequently upsetting docu-drama with an impressive central performance from newcomer Jonas Ball, but it's let down by some painfully slow pacing and an increasingly tedious voiceover.

What's it all about?
Directed by Andrew Piddington, The Killing of John Lennon details the months leading up to and following Mark Chapman's murder of John Lennon on December 8, 1980, outside the Dakota building in New York. Newcomer Jonas Ball plays Chapman and all the dialogue is taken either from interviews, Chapman's journals or public record as Piddington meticulously reconstructs every last detail, using authentic locations.

The film follows 25-year-old Chapman as he becomes obsessed with J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, adopting the name of its protagonist, Holden Caulfield and developing the same hatred of phoniness, eventually settling on Lennon as someone who symbolises everything he hates. Eventually, Chapman leaves his Honolulu home and travels to New York, where he guns down Lennon and subsequently ends up in Bellvue and Attica, where he resides to this day.

The Good
Newcomer Jonas Ball is terrific as Chapman and his performance is the best thing about the film. Similarly, Krisha Fairchild makes a strong impact in a small handful of scenes as Chapman's oblivious mother, while Mie Omori's role is painfully underdeveloped as Chapman's Japanese wife (oddly, the film never comments on the fact that Chapman and Lennon were both married to Japanese women).

The Bad
The main problem of the film is the constant presence of Chapman's droning, monotonous voiceover, which eventually becomes tedious, distracting and ultimately soporific. This isn't helped by the film's excessive length and some severe pacing problems in the middle section.

In addition, the shooting scene itself is gory and distasteful, adding a rather unsavoury note of sensationalism that the film doesn't need.

Worth seeing?
Though it's undoubtedly well put together, the film never tells us anything new and winds up being about as much fun as actually hanging out with Mark Chapman for two hours. For the morbidly curious only.

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Content updated: 24/09/2018 18:57

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