Less obviously titled than THE KILLING OF JOHN LENNON (2006), Jarrett Schaefer's account of Mark David Chapman's murder of the former Beatle stumbles, and on the same obstacle: Crazy doesn't necessarily mean interesting, and Chapman was a navel-gazing bore.
Dec. 6, 1980: The tubby, introverted Chapman (Jared Leto) arrives in New York City, his head boiling with fantasies about John Lennon and Holden Caulfield: The title alludes to his dream of writing the 27th chapter of J.D. Salinger's 26-chapter The Catcher in the Rye, whose reputation for appealing to misfits, loners and murderers is legendary. Chapman checks into the YMCA, then moves to a hotel when he realizes the YMCA is full of homosexuals and perverts. He makes his way to the Dakota, the legendary apartment building where Lennon (the unfortunately named Mark Lindsay Chapman) lives, and joins the knot of fans who gather outside in hopes of catching a glimpse. Pretty Jude (Lindsay Lohan) attempts to befriend Chapman, despite his off-putting manner and peculiar pronouncements, and introduces him to her friend, paparazzo Paul (Judah Friedlander). Chapman wanders the streets, visiting locations mentioned in The Catcher in the Rye, obsessing about phonies, liars and Lennon, who dared to sing about imagining "no possessions" while living in luxury. And on Dec. 8, Chapman ensures his place in infamy.
Adapted from Jack Jones' Let Me Take You Down, an as-told-to account of the hours leading up to Lennon's murder, CHAPTER 27 is destined to be remembered as the film for which slender, handsome Jared Leto (also an executive producer) gained 60 pounds, achieving a striking resemblance to the blubbery Chapman. His performance is thoroughly committed, right down to his creepy simulation of Chapman's scratchy, whispery voice. Lohan is fine as the fictitious embodiment of all fans with nothing more sinister in mind than securing an autograph or exchanging a few words with their idols, while Friedlander imbues Paul (modeled on real-life photographer Paul Goresh, who snapped a photo of Chapman and Lennon several hours before the murder) with a certain seedy energy. But the film's 85 minutes drag by painfully slowly, because there's no respite from Chapman's tedious, self-pitying reveries, not even the glimpses of his life afforded by THE KILLING OF JOHN LENNON. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh