Still courtesy of TIFF.
American documentarian Errol Morris tends to work in two modes. gravely serious inquiries into important socio-historical moments and playfully prodding social oddballs. Tabloid, his latest, falls squarely within the latter camp.
Using his patented Interrotron technology, Morris pries open the story of Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming who made international headlines when she (allegedly) abducted, chained up, and repeatedly raped Kirk Anderson, a young Mormon missionary working in Britain. By McKinney’s reckoning, it was her attempt to rescue and deprogram the love of her life, whom she believed had been brainwashed by the Latter Day Saints. Also by McKinney’s reckoning, a woman can’t rape a man, ‘cos it’d like “putting a marshmallow in a parking meter.” But according to the guilt-ridden testimony of Anderson (who became known in the press as the “Manacled Mormon”), he was forced into sexual congress against his will. As is usually the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. And as is usually the case with Morris’s films, it’s always much, much stranger.
Tabloid is an amusing reminisce on the curious moment in British and American culture. McKinney’s is as delusional and eccentric as any of the best of Morris’s subjects. But ultimately the film is a trifle, a glossed-up episode of his short-lived TV series First Person. And by now, we’ve come to expect much more from Morris, especially in the wake of 2003’s The Fog of War and 2008’s Standard Operation Procedure.
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