Tribeca ’07: The Killing of John Lennon (review)

My whole life has pointed in one direction. I can see that now.

All of Mark David Chapman’s words are his own, we are informed at the beginning of this re-creation of the life of the murderer of Beatle John Lennon in the months leading up to the horrific and senseless crime. And that’s the problem: we have only the perspective of a madman here, and it is no more enlightening than the ramblings of any given violent schizophrenic or criminal psychotic. I’m hard pressed to see, in fact, how this staccato, disjointed film differs morally in any way from the major media airings of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho’s video manifesto. Filmmaker Andrew Piddington, a British TV director turning to feature films, does nothing but give Chapman more of what he has admitted and states here was his purpose in killing Lennon: to be famous, to be notorious. Jonas Ball does an impressive job of inhabiting Chapman’s paranoid anxiety and psychoses (the ultralow-budget film fares far more poorly in its attempts to replicate 1980’s New York), but without any larger context in which we can try to make sense of it, Ball’s effort is for nought. Maybe there’s no sense to be made of it at all — but if that’s the case, then why feed Chapman’s delusions in the first place?

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