The Lure of the Unfinished Ending.

I’m having an unintentional Matthew McConaughey season at the moment (see previous post TV addiction — Food for the Creative Mind), and last night I watched Killer Joe, a dark film where McConaughey plays a deeply sleazy character with such conviction you’d be forgiven for thinking his dubious torso-stripping action/rom/com phase ever existed.  His break from acting has certainly improved his script judgement, with Mud and Dallas Buyers Club showing he’s still got what it takes (as well as a tendency to strip to the waist).

imagesWhenever I see him on screen I’m reminded of A Time To Kill, a film made early in his career where he plays a fresh-faced fully-clothed lawyer-on-a-mission. This film lingers in my mind because for some reason I never got the see the ending, and this has given the story and the characters an unnatural amount of staying power.

Raymond Carver was the master of unfinished stories.  One of many unforgettable endings is Menudo, a short story with a main character that has to choose between his wife and his lover who lives in the house opposite. Throughout the story we learn he is a man who doesn’t follow through and is prepared to abandon his friends even after they show generosity towards him (artfully expressed in the hours required for making said menudo, a tripe and chorizo stew that he never sticks around long enough to eat).  The story ends with the main character finally showing an act of generosity himself by raking the leaves on his neighbour’s lawn, and then crossing the road.  That’s it.  He crosses the road.

Other unfinished films that have equal longevity are Munich (it’s long, I was tired, etc) and Psycho (it’s scary and I’m a coward, ok).  Of course I could add these titles to my ever growing list on Lovefilm, but if I’m honest, there’s something intoxicating about those lingering characters, their predicaments living on in my mind like a resolution black hole that draws me in whenever I see an actor or subject matter that prompts the questions to be raised all over again.

This is all very selfish I know, as I imagine the characters are exhausted, McConaughey’s lawyer forever seeking justice, Norman Bates still on his killing spree, and the character in Carver’s story living out dual story lines depending on what I decide he does once he’s crossed that road.  I try not to feel too guilty about this though, as I’m pretty sure fictional characters have infinite amounts of time and energy, and much like the royal family, are there to serve.

Incidentally, I did see Killer Joe to the end, and it isn’t a film I’ll forget in a hurry (I’ll never look at a KFC chicken drumstick in quite the same way again), but to be honest, if you’re interested in modern film noir you’re better off watching U Turn instead.

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