Lifting dialogue directly from notorious assassin Mark David Chapman’s real-life journal, director Andrew Piddington paints a chilling portrait of the man who infamously shot John Lennon outside his New York City apartment building in 1980. The film chronicles Chapman’s trek from his home on the islands of Hawaii to Lennon’s home on the island of Manhattan, where he made history by murdering a living legend.
Rating: 6 out of 10
I was too young to remember at the time, but if you ask anyone 40 or older where they were when they heard John Lennon was shot, they all seem to remember in detail. It wasn’t just a murder by a dangerous psychopath; it was also the end of an era. It signified the end of free love with the 60’s and 70’s mentality and ushered in the 1980’s era of egotism, greed and cynicism. The teenagers of The Beatles era were now grown up and without one of their heroes.
I am personally biased when viewing this film because I love John Lennon’s music. I didn’t live through the era to truly experience what it meant to people but I certainly appreciate the power of his words and music every time I listen to his beautiful songs. So, watching a film based on the man who murdered such a beloved artist the world over was difficult. To the filmmaker’s credit, they really didn’t try to paint Chapman as Satan nor did they try to garner sympathy for him. Instead, they filmed a pseudo documentary based on the court records and Mark David Chapman’s book that he wrote after the murder. The portrait it paints is of a man deeply disturbed and filled with anger and resentment of the world around him. He can’t find his place anywhere and reads “The Catcher in the Rye” and identifies with the main protagonist and his view of a planet full of “phonies.” He then begins to obsess over John Lennon’s phoniness at the phrase “no possessions” from the song “Imagine.” He then decides he has to kill John Lennon so that the message of “phonies” can get out by inspiring people to read “Catcher in the Rye.” Still with me? Yep, that’s one crazy bastard! Personally, I think Chapman was disgusted with himself. He thought of himself as a big phony that was married and settled down and yet couldn’t stop obsessing over other people’s lives. He was a huge loser who wanted to attach himself to one of the most beloved people on the planet in a permanent way.
As far as the film goes, it’s well made and executed and features a brilliant performance by newcomer Jonas Ball. It really tries to bring you in the mind of a psychopath, viewing the world as he does. Unfortunately, I’m sane and his thought patterns repulsed and confused me. So, I’m giving this film a semi-positive review because it was well done but approach at your own risk. It pulls no punches and the outcome is just as devastating even though you know it’s coming.