May 11th: Imagine that.


102. Chapter 27 (J.P. Schaefer, 2007)

Should you pity Jared Leto? He’s a massively successful musician and very attractive chap who the women seem to love. Both of these reasons seem to suggest that acting stardom could beckon for the blue-eyed boy. This should have been the film to have propelled him into the serious ranks. Leto plays Mark Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon, in the three days leading up to the assassination. The performance is thoroughly convincing as Leto adopts the sad Southern accent and gained an enormous amount of weight to look like Chapman. The resemblance is worryingly accurate and the traditional stories circulated about the problems associated with massive short-term weight gain. It is a noteworthy performance though, filled with melancholy and neurosis. It is quite unfortunate that despite this, the film itself is quite poor, Schaefer sticks mainly to close-ups and tight angles. I can understand his desire to force the audience closer to the performances but it becomes far too stifling when the screen is filled with Leto’s huge face all the time. There isn’t any room to breathe in the film and as a result it seems to suffer from a sense of inertia, lacking movement. It’s not an enjoyable film to watch despite the excellent central performance, frankly – it bores. It should be taking its cues from films like Taxi Driver and The Assassination of Richard Nixon, both of which have strong similarities to Chapter 27 but also have the presence of mind to show the world around their protagonist in more detail and help to throw the characters into relief. And so I come back to the point, should you pity Leto? I feel a bit for the chap – he’s clearly worked his nuts off for this and it opened on about 3 screens in America before disappearing completely after some average reviews. Even Lindsay Lohan managed not to be irritating in the film. Such a shame then that they didn’t have a better man at the helm to give this film a slightly wider scope and vision that would have complemented the central performance.