Directed by Errol Morris, Tabloid is the story of former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney who gains notoriety by kidnapping and raping a Mormon missionary as her actions triggers a war between dueling British tabloid publications. The film explores a woman’s desire to become famous at a time when these things were new as McKinney gets to tell her story more than thirty years after the incident. The result is a very entertaining yet sensational film from Errol Morris.
Joyce McKinney is a North Carolina woman who had met and fell for this man from a Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson in Utah as the two went out and fell in love. Due the pressure of his religion and his mother, he ended the relationship and fled to England to do work with the Mormon religion. McKinney and some associates devised a plan to find Anderson as he’s eventually found where McKinney’s friend Keith May kidnaps Anderson. Taking him to a cottage in Devon where there’s claims he is imprisoned against his will, she would have sex with him and get him to stop believing in the Mormon dogma. Things seem to go fine when she and Anderson go to London and then he flees once again as news coverage emerge over what happened.
Scandal emerges as McKinney becomes a tabloid star in Britain as she gains fame while upstaging Joan Collins at her own film premiere. Whereas the Daily Mail would follow her exploits and tell her side of the story, the Daily Mirror would make claims that she was a nude model and hooker as it infuriated McKinney who had already fled the U.K. to return to the U.S. She wouldn’t be heard from until years later where she was accused of stalking Anderson and his wife only to go into seclusion for some years where she would be back in the news for very different yet strange reasons.
The film explores a famous scandal that occurred in 1977 in Britain where this former beauty queen would be infamous for kidnapping a man, raping him, and tying him up all for the sake of love. Told mostly by McKinney along with an associate of hers, a former Mormon missionary, and a couple of journalists. The film has a narrative about how McKinney met Kirk Anderson and their love life along with her confusion towards the Mormon religion as a former missionary reveals the legends about Anderson’s plight to the people. This would lead to her plan to kidnap Anderson and all sorts of things leading to her notoriety in Britain where cartoon drawings and such would add to that infamy.
Errol Morris’ direction is very lively as he strays away from his usual style of entrancing objects for something different as he is relying on newspaper clippings, photos, and old TV clips for this story. While his approach to doing interviews remains the same while he does get to speak out a bit, he does allow the people interviewed to fill in and tell the story while the focus is mainly on Joyce McKinney. McKinney is definitely an eccentric individual but she’s also quite likeable and pretty funny. What she did was wrong although love does complicate things as Morris chooses not to judge her and let her tell her story. The scenes involving newspaper clippings, photos, stock film footage, news footage, and all sorts of animated montages do give the film an idea of how big this event was.
With a couple of journalists telling the story about the media coverage, it does bring in a great mix of humor and drama that occur as McKinney claimed the nude photos she had supposedly taken were doctored. The photographer disputes those claims even though he never took those photographs. The story spans throughout McKinney’s life from her early years as a kid to recent years as she lives quietly in North Carolina. Yet, her notoriety did make her agoraphobic for a while in the 1980s while she would be in the news once again all because of a stunt as it’s told by a South Korean scientist. The overall work in the film is quite spectacular as Morris creates a truly engaging and fun documentary
Cinematographer Robert Chappell does excellent work in the film‘s cinematography to bring an understated yet naturalistic look to the interviews presented for the film. Editor Grant Surmi does a fantastic job with the editing in gathering loads of stock footage, animated sequences, and such to create montages to add humor to the film. Sound mixer David Bach does an incredible job with the mixing to create an atmosphere to the news reports that occur as well as the voices of the people interviewed for the film. The film’s score by John Kusiak is wonderful as it is very low-key in its orchestral arrangement to play up the suspense and drama along with more, melodic-tingling arrangements for the film’s humorous moments.
Tabloid is a remarkable and enjoyable documentary from Errol Morris about Joyce McKinney and her infamous scandal. The film is definitely one of Morris’ more accessible works in terms of the humor that occurs while it is also a very intriguing story about how someone can be famous by an act of notoriety. Notably as it is a film about scandal and how one woman was able to create such chaos all because of love. In the end, Tabloid is a superb and rapturous film from Errol Morris.
Errol Morris Films: (Gates of Heaven) - (Vernon, Florida) - The Thin Blue Line - A Brief History of Time - (The Dark Wind) - Fast, Cheap & Out of Control - (Mr. Death) - (The Fog of War) - (Standard Operating Procedure) - (The Unknown Known)
© thevoid99 2012