Simon Killer (2012)

Simon Killer is a disarming, involving exploration of a young man’s increasingly off-kilter psyche. It’s a quiet, thoughtful film and while it’s interesting enough, ultimately it doesn’t go anywhere and winds up raising more questions than it answers.

On the back of a failed relationship, Simon retreats to Paris, France in order to collect his thoughts. We don’t know how his previous relationship ended, just that it ended and that it was far from amicable. Over the course of a few months, we are privy to Simon’s blossoming relationship with a French prostitute that he visits and while this pairing is dysfunctional, there’s a certain sweetness to it. At least until cracks start to show in Simon’s armour and he begins to show himself to be anything other than the mild mannered, softly spoken chap he presents himself as.

On the surface, Simon Killer is nothing more than a particularly artsy portrayal of a sociopath but it has a lot more going for it than that. Brady Corbet is nothing short of phenomenal. Added to an increasingly impressive resume including films like Thirteen, Mysterious Skin, Funny Games (US) and Martha Marcy May Marlene, he’s a young actor that’s cemented his reputation in the indie community but that deserves wider appeal. In this, he embodies the titular character with absolute abandon of vanity. It’s an intense role and he pulls it off effortlessly and makes Simon a charming American abroad but also a quietly terrifying man who has more than a few skeletons in his closet.

The second major character in Simon Killer isn’t even visible on screen; the soundtrack is a bizarre and disconcerting array of staccato noises and incongruous electro beats, often cut short, adding to the uncertainty of the proceedings and giving them an amplified air of unease.

Something that Simon Killer does brilliantly is create an air of creeping dread. As a tourist, we already feel Simon’s disconnection to his surroundings and although he speaks French well enough, it’s easy to imagine being on the periphery in an unfamiliar place and how this might throw someone of even the soundest mind.

Simon Killer is a really interesting and, very surprisingly, accessible film but, sadly, it’s one that reeks of unfulfilled promise. It amounts to little more than a well constructed character study with a great soundtrack and although it’s a great one, the momentum that it gains throughout never reaches a satisfactory conclusion and it just left me feeling a little cold. Simon is a character I would gladly have spent more time with, if only to see how his life continues on its downward spiral, but it’s not something I was granted. Simon Killer is a brilliantly made, unsettling film, but one that left me wanting more.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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