Movie review:  Tabloid
2011 Sundance Selects

Genre: Documentary

Opens locally Friday, July 22nd, 2011 (check for showtimes)

Run Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated R

Directed by Errol Morris (The Fog of War)

"Tabloid" is a strangely entrancing documentary that is narrowed in on one particular headline from the late 1970's. As the title of the film states, this is a story bizarre enough to categorize itself as not just "news," but the film is not an all-encompassing look at the tabloid industry as a whole. If anything, it is a re-telling of a stranger than fiction tale that mirrors modern-day media and displays how sometimes the truth of the story isn't the most important part.

It was 1977, and former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney was in love. Not the kind of love that makes you want to cook dinner or buy him a box of chocolates, but the kind of love that leads you to stalk the person across Europe, abduct him, tie him up with chains, and rape him. Who can't relate, right? Well this is exactly what Joyce McKinney did to her Mormon lover, Kirk Anderson...if you believe one side of the tale. The other side (Joyce's) would have you believe that Kirk was brain-washed by his Mormon leaders, and willingly participated in a romantic getaway, only before being overcome with guilt and shame soon after, leading to his claims of rape as a cover for his spiritual weakness.

In "Tabloid," we get both sides of the story, from many tabloid journalists who covered the case and from Joyce McKinney herself. If you recall this case, which was dubbed the "Mormon sex in chains case" or the "Case of the Manacled Mormon," you may remember the scandal first-hand. If you're like me, who isn't privy to famous Mormon sex scandals, the movie mesmorizes you from the get-go because it doesn't let you in on where it's going. You hear from Joyce, a seemingly bubbly and friendly lady, who at first tells a story of deep love. As the film progresses and we are given details of what transpired, and some facts from those involved, we cut back to Joyce and suddenly she seems like a creepy villainess...a real-life Kathy Bates from "Misery," with a twisted take on love and devotion, smiling all the while.

If the whole Mormon sex scandal wasn't enough, we find out that this case was brought back to light when Joyce re-entered the spotlight in 2008, when she attempted to have her dog cloned in Korea. So it's not your run-of-the-mill Mormon-abduction-rape-dog-cloning tale, but it is a shocking and odd portrait of one's version of love, eternal.

Even at 88 minutes, it does seem to stretch a bit, and some viewers may be disappointed that there is no real conclusion or "truth" to be found by the end. But "Tabloid" shows that sometimes it is not the tabloid paper, paparazzi, or hack-journalist who sensationalizes a story...sometimes the story is just sensational.