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A "cult," a self-centered femme fatale, the British press at its worst -- how did this doc not gel? ~
on January 25, 2015
There were two smaller documentaries inside this hash -- either one would probably have been better alone. They both purport to tell the story of a young North Carolina woman, Joyce McKinney, who fell in love with a Mormon missionary, pursued him to the U.K. in 1977, and with the help of friends kidnapped him and put on a full-bore sex offensive in a remote cottage in order to secure his love and free him from Mormon "training." Other documentaries I've seen by Errol Morris had more respect for their topic, I feel. Even VERNON, FLORIDA, whose citizens and ambience go from weird to a kind of transcendental weird, stayed with the mood of that quiet and isolated small town and let town citizens, abetted by the camera, speak for themelves. TABLOID was about half that, about half Michael Moore kneejerk irony (as the central figure reminisces about her teenage years, a clip of a strutting majorette is shown). The problem with this injected camp is that it tends to drag us away from the subject. After the film was over, I found myself wondering about her -- did Joyce McKinney finish college? -- how did she wind up in Wyoming? -- did she ever have a full-time job? -- omissions or partial omissions which seemed a little unfair given the assault on her erotomania and (one could argue) insufficient socialization. I left with the feeling that I'd learned a little about the tabloid treatment of a singular woman who may have been even more wack than the "cult" she affected to despise, but ultimately that no one got it right, least of all the normally insightful Errol Morris. If you're a Morris fan at some point you'll probably wind up seeing TABLOID, but be prepared for some letdown.