Chapter 27

Posted: April 25, 2008

Directed by J.P. Schaefer. With Jared Leto and Lindsay Lohan. 1 hour, 25 mins. Rated R (sexual themes, profanity) Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse.

For Chapter 27, Jared Leto gained 60 pounds to play doughy Mark David Chapman, the deranged figure who killed John Lennon. He needn't have bothered. As Laurence Olivier reportedly said when told Robert De Niro gained that kind of weight for Raging Bull: "My boy, why didn't you just try acting?"

Another pertinent question: What was director J.P. Schaefer thinking? His subjective film, shot entirely from Chapman's delusional perspective, meticulously evokes the assassin's divided self - the voice that tells him to kill, the voice that tells him to leave - never suggesting to us what compelled Chapman, and why he was fixated on the peace-loving Lennon.

Like another, better film about a celebrity and his stalker, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Chapter 27 seems to unfold in slow motion, making its 85 minutes seem like eternity and a day.

The movie encompasses the 72 hours up to the fateful, fatal encounter between the Beatle and his disturbed fan. Through this, Leto lurches like the Sta Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. His Chapman clutches a copy of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and imagines that he is its disturbed hero, Holden Caufield. (Salinger's novel had 26 chapters. The film title suggests a different denouement.)

Schaefer punctuates Chapman's somnambulistic odyssey through New York with images of waves lapping at the shore (perhaps Hawaii, where Chapman briefly lived?) and wind riffling through fields of rye (alluding to the Salinger novel). Even when you connect the dots, it makes for a disconnected experience.

Judah Friedlander and Lindsay Lohan are striking, respectively, as a Lennon paparazzo and a fan creeped out by Chapman.

- Carrie Rickey

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|