Twee-Man Woman-Hater, by Matt Warren
Director Antonio Campos’s follow-up to his debut indie-hit favorite Afterschool follows Simon (Brady Corbet), an introverted American on extended holiday in Paris trying to get over a bad break-up (and the post-collegiate blues) by —what else? — getting laid, eventually developing a relationship with Victoria (Mati Diop), a self-assured young prostitute with a tragic past and cool bamboo wallpaper in her apartment. Now, there are a lot of ways that this same basic premise could play out, but whatever “romantic” is, Simon Killer is the opposite. As infatuation morphs into obsession, it becomes clear that under Simon’s vulnerable, puppyish exterior lays a pathological misogynist and master manipulator of women. Equal parts Tom Ripley and Natalee Holloway murderer Joren Van Der Sloot, Simon is a terrifying, fascinating, and pitiable creature. An example of subjective filmmaking at its finest, Simon buries the audience deep within the head of its subject through a combination of masterful cinematography and intricate sound design. Filmed in a series of meticulously composed long shots and festooned with a propulsive, Pitchfork-friendly indie-electro soundtrack (LCD Soundsystem, Lykke Li, etc.), Simon has plenty of style to burn, without ever feeling like it’s trying too hard to be cool. Not everyone agrees. But while some have felt the film to be all style and no substance, I’m not one of them. I found it effective and hypnotic.