When you can't have fame, you shoot for infamy. Using voiceover lifted from the journals of real-life assassin Mark Chapman, The Killing Of John Lennon is a sideways indictment of the man who pulled the trigger on the former Beatle. Essentially, writer/director Andrew Piddington stands back and gives Chapman all the rope he needs to hang himself. He heightens the ambience with stirring visuals and a turn of requisite freakiness by up-and-comer Jonas Ball.
Before fixating on Lennon, Chapman idly rages against his mother (Krisha Fairchild) and berates his wife (Mie Omori) who, apparently, just doesn't understand him. It's only when he reads (and obsessively re-reads) JD Salinger's novel Catcher In The Rye that he finds a connection. In a florid train of thought he describes identifying with antihero Holden Caulfield through their mutual hatred of "phoneys". At the time it occurs to Chapman that Lennon is the worst offender - a hippy with sacks of cash.
Chapman's ramblings are carefully considered to give him an air of importance, but the more he talks, the more he gives himself away. At one point he asks, "What glory is there in killing unknowns?" Just like Robert Ford in The Assassination Of Jesse James, Chapman craves celebrity status. Pop culture also shapes Piddington's vision; snapshots of Chapman drifting around New York in cabs and mooching in his hotel room echo Taxi Driver. There's a similar feeling of eerie otherworldliness and the murder itself is relished in detail, however the film does lack overall impact. A relentless voiceover demands you listen rather than drawing you in and despite Ball's measured performance, Chapman becomes ever more remote.
The Killing Of John Lennon is out in the UK on 7th December 2007.