Sundance Review: Simon Killer

The one liner on Simon Killer could be: An American Psycho in Paris.

Simon (Brady Corbet) has recently broken up with his girlfriend in America and has journeyed to Paris in order to find himself or something of that magnitude.  While there, he aimlessly walks around smoking and meets a prostitute Victoria (Mati Diop) that he begins seeing and slowly draws into a scheme to trick her clients out of some money. Simon is obsesssed with his ex-girlfriend back home, e-mailing her, lying to his parents, lying to Victoria, sex obsessed, and vile through and through.  When the blackmailing scheme backfires and he meets another young girl, Victoria becomes another obstacle in Simon's road to enlightenment.  It eventually becomes impossible to discern reality as well as the truth from amidst Simon's innumerable lies.

Simon is unrelentingly unlikeable, entirely self-centered and without a plan. He lives minute to minute, satiating his immediate desires as they arise. As the film goes on, it's hard not to see the comparisons to American Psycho, and what's bizarre is that mid-twenties Simon conceivably could have read the book, seen the movie, unconsciously consumed the life lessons of excess, greed and self-pleasure.  The women in this film are very nearly reduced to objects, though they are given names and professions, they all exist to serve Simon's demented need for attention and excitement.  When an object no longer fulfills its purpose, then what?

It's entirely possible that Simon's problems are related to not just the adrift nature of one's mid-twenties with searching for meaning, but a serious borderline psychosis. His complete lack of empathy for others and willingness to lie to attain anything he wants speaks volumes about his aggressive lack of humanity, and the only vaguely human moments we see him in are sexual encounters as well as despair and fear.

The numerous sex scenes in the film are harsh, transactional and though they may be passionate, speak louder of need than care for the other.  While not all sex must be gentle, there's an essentially selfish quality to the seeming sex addiction of Simon that takes all the fun out of watching attractive people go at it.

Simon Killer utilizes music better than any other movie I've seen at Sundance, loud and bombastic, half the time we hear sounds as filtered through Simon's iPod earbuds. One particularly beautiful sequence finds Simon dancing with a girl for several minutes of the LCD Soundsystem song, "Dance Yrself Clean." But all the beautiful music in the world and clever cinematography can't redeem the arrogance and stomach turning behavior of Simon.  Though Simon professes love and care for those in his life, it's painfully obvious that there's nothing behind his eyes.

Grade: B+