Tabloid: A Review

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Either Joyce McKinney really was a Mormon-kidnapping, dog-cloning, fugitive sex fiend ex-beauty queen (who drew nationwide attention to her arrest and imprisonment by smuggling a letter to the British press in her vagina) – or she is one of the most misunderstood figures in living history.

It’s hard to be sure and, quite honestly, Tabloid doesn’t really make it much clearer.

This is not because Errol Morris has made a bad and confusing film. Quite the opposite in fact – he’s made a very good film which manages to get both sides of the story across engagingly and sympathetically. The trouble is that the whole saga of Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon is so fabulously batshit-crazy from top to toe that, whoever you choose to believe, it feels miles too good to be true.

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Partly this is because Joyce herself – a sort of American mix between Fern Britton and Lauren Harries – is a rather unique individual. And though she puts forward her side of the story very clearly and passionately (at times even utterly convincingly) there is a cast of others who seem to have a very different interpretation of the events she describes when Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson went missing.

Curiously, neither party seems to have any solid evidence to back their side of the story up. The tabloid appears to have lost its dossier of incriminating photos, McKinney appears to have had all of the documents that prove her innocence nicked, so the whole thing becomes a battle between two equally outrageous stories.

Infuriating though the lack of definitive proof is, Tabloid remains to be a very interesting look at the reporting of scandal – and scandals don’t come much better than that of the manacled Mormon.

Without wishing to spoil the story (or to take anyone’s side, as McKinney is already suing the director) all we can really tell you is that it involves:
* Sexy rubdowns with cinnamon oil and Smith and Wesson handcuffs
* A man dressed as a nun
* The fiery destruction of sacred Mormon underwear
* No less than six genetically-identical dogs named Booger
* Racially dubious impersonations of a pioneering Korean scientist
* A bunch of black and white photos of somebody’s tits
but telling you anything else may ruin the many twists and turns the story takes (and put us in a tricky legal position with McKinney).

If it all sounds a bit baffling and implausible, well, that’s pretty much about right. It is. But it’s brilliant. And when you’re having to turn to a mildly pop-eyed former Mormon missionary for a bit of logic and rational explanation then you know you’ve got a good story.

Tabloid is in cinemas on Friday 11th November. You can watch the trailer below:

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