Tabloid (2010)

Tabloid (2010) – Keep writing all the “crazy” and “quirky” screenplays you want, Hollywood. Real life still has you beat when it comes to fucked-up weirdness. Famed and rightfully acclaimed documentarian Errol Morris’s latest film is about Joyce McKinney, a woman who kind of has to be seen to be believed. When she was a young former beauty queen Joyce fell in love with a young Mormon man and began dating him. One day he vanished without saying a word to her. She found out he’d been sent to England for his missionary work. What happened next is, as one of the interviewees in the film puts, one of three possible situations: 1) Joyce’s story: she rescued her love from that weird cult and they spent a weekend having totally consensual sex until he was retaken by those crafty Mormons and brainwashed into submission. 2) The Mormons’ story: Joyce kidnapped him and raped him until he was able to get free and return to his church. 3) Likely something between stories one and two.

On the one hand, you have a woman who is clearly delusional about the nature of her relationship with this man. On the other you have a church that has magic underwear. Credibility is not really found on either side. The movie does devote most of its attention to McKinney and her side of the story. She’s interviewed in Morris’ trademark style, making direct eye contact with the camera. I don’t know if this is bias or just the fact that people affiliated with the Mormon faith refused to participate (the latter is true in either case. The only Mormon interviewed is apostate and gay rights activist Troy Williams). The tabloids ate all this up (as the title would indicate) and “journalists” who covered the story for two British tabloids are interviewed. Oh, also there’s dog-cloning. No, really. The other two Morris films I’ve seen, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara and Standard Operating Procedure, dealt with far more serious or important material. Tabloid marks his return to “bizarre portraiture” (as he has called it) and is a reminder that once again truth is more bugfuck insane than fiction.

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