EmptyPARK CITY -- Where were you when you heard John Lennon was killed? I remember it vividly, angling at the curve on Sunset Boulevard by the Hamburger Hamlet on the Strip and heading for work at the old Hollywood Reporter. And ever since then, the question for all us early Beatles fans: why?
"Chapter 27" is a smart attempt to distill the twisted psychology and motivation of Mark David Chapman, which we've all superficially gleaned through mass-media reports and intermittent updates on Chapman's incarceration. A fictional depiction of Chapman's three days leading up to murdering Lennon at the entrance to the Dakota, "Chapter 27" depicts the maddening confluence of fact, fiction and mania that swirled through Chapman's inner and outer world.
Landed from Hawaii in a pilgrimage to Lennon's domicile, Chapman transports a handgun, one that he might or might not use. As he cabs into Manhattan and closer to Lennon, he assumes the psychology of Holden Caulfield, his literary soul mate: He baffles his cabbie with his Caulfield-isms, rambling about the ducks in Central Park. As he settles into a shabby YMCA, he procures a copy of his holy book, "The Catcher in the Rye." Clutching it, Chapman spirals further into Caulfield's persona, raging about "phonies" and puffing up in self-importance.
Like many serial killers, Chapman is a largely invisible non-entity: chubby, pale and blurred by large, partial-tinted glasses. At odd moments, he's also hair-trigger noticeable, bursting into rants or obsessive stalkerlike behavior. As he endures the December cold outside Lennon's Gothic-style domicile, Chapman noticeably seems to evaporate into the persona of Holden Caulfield. He struggles against himself, including whether to murder Lennon; he evaporates from the "real" world into the pages of "Catcher," clinging to Caulfield in a twisted last grasp to find himself.
Filmmaker Jarrett Schaefer's smart depiction of Chapman is a compelling dramatization of the inner mania of Lennon's assailant. While the film does not purport to be a bromide for Lennon's fans, it is an inspired attempt at making sense of what has always seemed so senseless. It intelligently attempts to offer some measure of cinematic closure: a valiant attempt at "why."
High praise to the cast and crew. Jared Leto is mesmeric as the bloated, deranged Chapman. It's a brilliantly measured performance, evincing the tale of a madman through his own awful rhyme and reason.
Technical contributions also convey Chapman's disjointed mind-set, most prominently Tom Richmond's somber cinematic tones and irreal scopes.
Peace Arch Entertainment present an
Artina Films production
Writer/director J.P. Schaefer
Producers: Naomi Despres, Bob Salerno, Alexandra Milchan
Executive producers: John Flock, Gary Howsam, Lewin Webb
Director of photography: Tom Richmond
Editors: Jim Makiej, Andrew Hafitz
Production designer: Kalina Ivanov
Music: Anthony Marinelli
Costume designer: Ane Crabtree
Mark David Chapman: Jared Leto
Jude: Lindsay Lohan
Paul: Judah Friedlander
Jeri: Ursula Abbott
European Woman: Jeane Fourier
Patrick: Brian O'Neill
Running time -- 100 minutes
No MPAA rating