Director: Andrew Dominik

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Australian film Chopper (2000) comes close to being a film about a psycho killer who has a streak of decency that makes him sorry after each horrible thing he does. But it's also a self-romanticizing biopic based on an obviously self-serving self-agrandizing autobiography by a bestselling author who turned his early life of crime into a Munchhausean novelist's success. The popularity of Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read as a writer has not spread much beyond the Australian shores. But in his own country, he's a household name more on the basis of personality than talent. In the film Chopper it's often difficult to tell if the sinister humor is intentional, but I think the "autobiography" angle is indeed supposed to be just this transparently a big lie, & the story is indeed comedic on purpose.

Eric Bana plays Chopper on the border between authentic charisma & complete loserliness, giving the character considerabe texture. Chopper becomes a character simultaneously so stupid you'd think he was brain-damaged or retarded, & so clever it's difficult to figure out why such a smart guy could be such a moron.

Yet at the same time this "fictional" recreation of Chopper Read is sufficiently disturbing to not be all that funny even while his nutty dangerous behavior induces giggles. When the film is most distasteful, it's not so much because it's meaner in its violence than other films about violent criminals, but more because of the way the film simultaneously begs the viewer to admire a dangerous headcase plus an actual person.

We're shown the kind of man who might injure or kill someone with little or no provocation, but then permit a friend to stab & nearly kill him without fighting back at all, because hey, it was a friend.

Chopper was not a film that appealed to me personally a whole lot. Even so, the direction is as perfect as the performances, & in its own creepy way, it's a great film from a first-time director who already clearly knows exactly what he's doing.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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