Tabloid (2010) MIFF Film Review


Tabloid starts with interviews with some of the key players in a very strange series of events and as the film continues, it becomes one of those documentaries where you end up laughing at the subject because she is different. A little odd, with unusual attitudes, and who knows, maybe even some kind of undiagnosed mental illness.

The original story is quite hilarious; an all-American beauty queen, Joyce McKinney, is dating a Mormon whose mother disapproves of her. Suddenly, he is gone and when her private investigator tracks him down, he is on a mission in London. She goes over there, and this is where things get confusing. McKinney’s story, and she is interviewed throughout the film, is that he left with her of his own accord, they went away for a weekend where they enjoyed their love and had lots and lots of sex, but when they returned to London, his Mormon guilt took over and he claimed he had been kidnapped and raped. The alternate story told (although not by the ‘manacled Mormon’ who declined to be interviewed for the documentary) is that she indeed did kidnap him, chained him to the bed and forced him to have sex with her.  At any rate, he ended up back at the mission and she was charged by the English police. Later, whilst her cause was being championed by one tabloid paper, another was pulling her character and history apart. Much more happens in her life, but it is this that is the key defining time in her life.

There is no doubt this is a funny documentary. I went to a sold out session and the whole place was roaring with laughter. There was so much laughter that many of the key lines were not even heard. The subjects of the interviews seemed happy to show both themselves and McKinney in a bad light. But, toward the end, I felt an emptiness. It may have been that I felt McKinney had repeatedly over her life been taken advantage of, although she did have a cheerful demeanor throughout her interviews and doesn’t seem to regret anything. Or perhaps it is that I just don’t really enjoy laughing at people as much as I used to.

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