William Friedkin rides again. The director of The French Connection, The Exorcist,
and To Live and Die in L.A
. reunites with playwright Tracy Letts (Bug
) for this high-voltage crime shocker, which marries bumptious burlesque humor and gross-out excess in the story of a Texas trailer-trash family who hires a renegade cop hit man (Matthew McConaughey) to murder the family’s matriarch for the insurance money. McConaughey outdoes himself in the title role, with vigorous support by Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, and Juno Temple, as the family’s jailbait teenage daughter. But it’s the tandem of Letts and Friedkin that sets this hyper-prurient exercise apart. The film succeeds as a rare combination of glib, deep-genre writing, perfect casting, and the sort of directorial vision that can see through a gut-bucket guignol and perceive it as a fairy tale. Friedkin’s twisty-turny career shows no signs of slackening. One the best films of 2012. (103 min.)
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This year, it was all about genre.
Death and Texas.