If Mark David Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon, was the first celebrity stalker, then Andrew Piddington's feature is more than just a docudrama on a world-shattering event but a pertinent exploration of the relationship between celebrities and their fans in a fame-obsessed world.
Chapman is seen at his local library, engrossed by J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and a photography book dedicated to Lennon. At the time, the musician was basking in a creative resurgence following the release of his Double Fantasy album, but Chapman concludes that his idol is a phony, prompting him to seek out the Dakota apartment building in New York to prosecute the fateful deed. Later he is heard intoning, "I was nobody until I killed the biggest somebody on Earth.”
Well-made and meticulously researched, The Killing of John Lennon takes all of Chapman’s dialogue from his own journals and statements, much of it in voiceover. Rather than a known actor, Piddington has opted for the unknown Jonas Ball to incarnate the twisted hero worshipper-turned-zealot, and the haunted look of the actor casts a long shadow over the proceedings. Shot on a budget in a staccato impressionistic style and privately financed, it took three years to make on locations across the U.S. Remarkably and controversially nonjudgmental about Chapman, The Killing of John Lennon doubtless will provoke a furor among Lennon’s fan base.
Distributor: IFC First Take
Cast: Jonas Ball, Mie Omori, Krisha Fairchild, Robert Kirk, Anthony Solis and Vera Felice
Director/Screenwriter: Andrew Piddington
Producer: Rakha Singh
Running time: 112 min.
Release date: January 11, 2008 NY
Reviewed: Edinburgh International Film Festival 2006