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The Killing of John Lennon

Writer-director Andrew Piddington has pulled off a

The Killing of John LennonDirected by Andrew Piddington (Unrated)

The sociopathic murderer of John Lennon prepares to kill the music icon.

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Writer-director Andrew Piddington has pulled off a “beautiful balancing act” in The Killing of John Lennon, said Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News. Both a chiller and a historical chronicle, the docudrama re-creates 25-year-old Mark David Chapman’s obsessive preparation for the assassination of the Beatles’ frontman. Chapman, who considered J.D. Salinger’s fictional Holden Caulfield his hero, saw Lennon as a phony whose actual lifestyle contradicted his lyrical philosophy. This perceived hypocrisy led him to murder the musician. Given the story’s already disturbing nature, Piddington apparently “didn’t feel a need to embellish” the facts. Instead he approached the subject with a “grim commitment to authenticity,” said Gene Seymour in Newsday. He uses Chapman’s actual prison-diary entries and documented remarks as narration, or has newcomer Jonas Ball, who plays the deranged loner, repeat them verbatim. Yet Piddington often seems to brandish such “strict authenticity as if readying a defense against cries of exploitation,” said Aaron Hillis in The Village Voice. He earnestly attempts to capture Chapman’s perverse character and offer insight into his psychological delusion. Ultimately he fails to arrive at any revelations other than that “Murderous narcissists are people, too.” The only eye-opener is Ball, who is “so credibly complicated as the Salinger-obsessed killer” that he makes the film a must-see for Beatles fans.

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