TabloidFeature Film | Errol Morris By Josh Ralske
Highly entertaining, but minor, Morris documentary.
Errol Morris chose to follow up his fine trilogy of heavy documentaries (Mr. Death, The Fog of War, and Standard Operating Procedure) with a far more lightweight film reminiscent of earlier works on harmless American eccentrics—Vernon, Florida and Gates of Heaven. His subject is Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen who made headlines in the 1970s when she followed her Mormon fiancé to England and kidnapped him for a long weekend of allegedly coerced sex in a remote cottage. Morris lets McKinney tell her own story, and she's a fascinating woman. As she spins her tale with the skill of a master storyteller, it becomes impossible to tell what is delusion, what's self-delusion, and what's the truth. Morris eschews his usual reenactments, instead dramatizing McKinney's words through garish tabloid graphics, old news footage, and interviews with several witnesses, each of whom has a slightly different take on her adventures, but seem to harbor an understandable fondness for her. Late in the film, the story abruptly shifts to McKinney's second appearance in the tabloid world, when she had her beloved pit bull cloned. Morris has a compelling human interest subject here, but beyond the obvious (there's more to the headlines than meets the eye), he doesn't seem to have anything that crucial to say. Tabloid is fun, but it doesn't have the impact of his best work.