The murder of John Lennon outside his New York apartment in December 1980 was another appalling event of the late 20th century. 'The Killing of John Lennon' is just as shocking in its portrayal of the former Beatle's death.
This film is a dramatic reconstruction of the three months leading up to Lennon's assassination outside his Dakota Building apartment by the psychotic Mark Chapman (Bell).
He grew up a Beatles fan but was riled by what he saw as Lennon's hypocrisy. Here was a multi-millionaire with property all across the world asking us to "imagine no possessions".
Chapman had become fixated with JD Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'. He saw himself as a Holden Caulfield character that must act against phoniness. For him, Lennon was phoney-in-chief.
As he planned his deadly assault from his home in Honolulu, Chapman would listen to Beatles records, looking for some sort of confirmation that he should kill Lennon.
Chapman saw it as his destiny to kill the former Beatle and to become somebody, with the character of Travis Bickle in the film 'Taxi Driver' an inspiration. The only difference here was that the target was a real person.
Ball acts as a narrator through the use of court transcripts and statements Chapman gave to police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. This gives us a chilling insight into the mind of a stalker. The film was shot in the original locations, which aids its authenticity.
The film is not easy to watch with its jump cuts reflecting Chapman's disturbed mind and the impending sense of tragedy. Tension is built up through the use of a reminder telling you how close the killing is.
That tension builds brilliantly, but in the crucial scene of Lennon's death, Piddington uses a poor lookalike which lessens the impact.
Ball's performance as Chapman is effective and, as the only lead character, he carries the film. It was a performance that brought the film the Special Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was a just reward for Piddington, who had spent four years trying to complete the project due to a lack of funds.
Chapman remains incarcerated in Attica prison in New York where he has remained in solitary confinement, for his own protection, for the entirety of his sentence. He has had four appeals for parole rejected.
'The Killing of John Lennon' is a fine attempt at telling a story that many people are already very familiar with. However, critics may say that it glorifies Chapman and his heinous crime and puts him back in the limelight where he craved to be.
The disturbing footage and subject matter means it lacks the universal appeal to make a significant impact at the box office and may only interest fans of the Beatles and Lennon.