Last Updated: April 7, 2008By Tags:

(BY ALI NADERZAD) Performers go to great lengths for the sake of their art. Pansori singers withdraw into secluded places to wail for days to develop the hoarse vocal timbre characteristic of the style–the throat often bleeds. Jared Leto, who plays murderer Mark Chapman in this new film about John Lennon’s murder is, under normal circumstances, thin. What he went through in order to reach the appropriate plumpness includes feats like drinking pints of microwaved ice-cream and olive oil. Compare the fat Leto with a real picture of Chapman and you will see that the results have indeed paid off. But Leto does so much more than physically emulate the book-toting killer. He is Mark Chapman. Punctuating the manic outbursts with bouts of somber incantation, Leto never strays from character. His composure as Chapman is nothing short of brilliant–it’s like he was made for the role. Chapter 27 is about the three days which led to John Lennon’s assassination at his home. Chapman, a Beatles fan with an unhealthy reverence for Holden Caufield from The Catcher In The Rye, spent the days hovering near The Dakota, where Lennon and Yoko Ono lived. During one of his stake-outs in front of the Dakota he befriends Jude (Lindsey Lohan), a sweet-natured and utterly normal Beatles fan. And although Chapman seemed to remain friendly long enough to wring information about Lennon’s whereabouts out of the doormen, a kind of frigid solitude laced with delusions inhabits him. And, finally when it happens the act itself is not an act but merely a ripple, meant to remind us how little value Chapman ascribed to human life. After the movie, I thought about those crowds which had gathered outside The Dakota after Lennon’s death and realized, I’m glad I wasn’t alive when Lennon died because it would have been hard to stomach, like the 9/11 attacks or Princess Di’s fatal accident. Jared Leto gives a great performance in this highly recommended film.

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