Director: Antonio Campo
Stars: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Lila Salet, Constance Rossseau
Back in the days of past, when one had a break-up with a significant other the usual cure-all remedy would be: to wallow in your own pathetic effluence, whilst listening to The Cure or Depeche Mode in your dimly lit bedroom. The typical scene would play out in your home where you would mope around the house for day’s stuffing ho-ho’s into your pie-hole while your parents asked you “What happened to you and [insert ex’s name], you two were so good together?” You would then say some BS crap about how you both “grew apart” from each other, or something hilariously delusional like you both would rather be “friends”. Meanwhile, the real truth was that your girlfriend thought blowing the waiter from AppleBee’s wouldn’t be a big deal, or that your boyfriends idea of chivalry to women is sticking it to your best friend while you were sick in the hospital with a foreign parasite that you caught from one of your “save the children” trips to Honduras.
Regardless of the story, break-ups for some people can be tough if they gave the relationship more meaning than what it was, a relation. People deal with them in different ways; however, there are always trends among generations. Our parents had The Cure as their remedy, and our generation seems to have the Eat, Pray, Love mentality as a cure for their relationship failures. It is a fantasy that is oh-so tempting among Gen Y’ers who have previously felt “trapped” by their former partner or life; and nothing cures that feeling of imprisonment like banging some random Italian dudes in Florence, or sampling some of Amsterdam’s finest ladies of the night, or does it?
The 2012 film Simon Killer, follows a young neuroscience graduate ‘Si’(Brady Corbet) from America who has decided to take a trip to Paris( land of love and hookers) to escape a bad break-up, and to take time off from his stressful life of unemployment, and twenty-something duties. We as the viewer first feel extreme pity for Simon, as the films writers offer very little detail of his relationship with his former girlfriend; although it is revealed that she cheated on him for reasons unknown until the end of the movie. The filmmakers, with this angle and lack of detail amongst their affair, make us thus view Simon as the poor victim that had a deceitful girlfriend who has presumably longed/lusted for another man’s “capabilities”.
With that said, Simon chain smokes, enjoys impassioned cybersex, and references a recently-completed postgraduate degree- in a fashionably complex subject- which he explains to any attractive female he chats up. In fact, his field of study offers some clues to Simon’s mindset, and director Campo doesn’t wait long to reveal the cracks in his leading man’s boy-next-door armor.
Simon denounces his ex Michelle as “a whore” in conversation with the Paris apartments owner, and a bit later, we see him walking across a thin pane of glass, the floor of a structure looming over the city. Clearly, we’re meant to think that he’s on thin ice, emotionally speaking. We study Simon through motionless, voyeuristic shots, which sometimes carry an air of chill. The camera tends to look away from whatever we, as the audience, wish to see. Ultimately, this becomes a metaphor for Simon’s perpetual search for what he can’t have. And maybe Michelle is at the top of that list.
However, Michelle is only one of several women Simon craves, including the comely prostitute Victoria (Mati Diop) and the willowy Sophie (Constance Rossseau) whom he encounters on the Metro, who has little more clue about Simon’s thought processes than we do. That’s because information on Simon’s past arrives very gradually. He claims, “I don’t really talk to my parents anymore,” yet later writes to his mom, announcing that he’s “feeling better”. Was Simon ill? Was it a physical ailment or something that only the great Dr. Phil would handle? We don’t truly know. Simon does seem sexually compulsive, and needy of female attention. He may still pine for Michelle, but he won’t sit by the Seine Crossing twiddling his thumbs while playing emotional wack-a-mole with his past. And whatever his insecurities, he revels in the vigorous sex both women grant him, and in one sequence set in a crowded disco, Simon is suddenly transformed into a cocksure, pimpish lad, clutching his female acquaintances confidently, while flashing a devilish grin and pulling bro-ish, frat boy dance moves. Ironically, Victoria pleasures Simon in a decidedly unconventional manner, at least one few lady killing studs would confess to liking.
On numerous levels, Simon is a little lost boy in which no amount of fellatio will fill the hole in his soul. His ineptness fumbles a blackmail scheme he concocts with Victoria, and he becomes gradually more desperate as the Euros begin to dwindle. Most troubling, though, is his inability to forge mature, meaningful relationships with women. Are they merely Objects in his eyes? Is there a thin line between love and hate when he thinks of them, perhaps a feeling that predates his relationship with the mysterious Michelle, whom we only “know” via Simon’s own opinions, at least before the climax?
By the end of the film we as a viewer are stuck with the questions “what, if anything, did Simon gain from his travels?” One could see it as him actually losing more than what he found through all the money he spent on blowjob’s, drinks, and conversation; not to mention an even more distorted view of himself. Did he learn something about himself that could have easily of been learned back at home? In my opinion, the answer is yes. Traveling to Paris for Simon in my view only made his true colours and insecurities show more vividly at an expensive cost (we are talking Euros after all). The only thing Simon probably gained from his trip, that wasn’t attached to him before, is an itchy crotch.
Ultimately for me, Simon Killer presents an allegorical cautionary tale of a drifting Millennial generation, many of whom are waning in America’s current job market, which may be the case with Simon. Or perhaps he’s just lazy, bored, and immature, all of which can be kindling for pre-existing psychopathy. Simon’s motives are deadpan, and that only made this arresting film more effective.