In an earlier, almost innocent era in British tabloid history, decades before The News of the World was forced to go extinct, Joyce McKinney’s good looks, stranger-than-fiction exploits and her naughty pictures (a la Betty Page) kept the English riveted.
Errol Morris’ insightful and entertaining new film, “Tabloid,” like much of his work, is a portrait of a singular individual. Joyce McKinney, bright and beautiful, fell inexplicably in love with rather dull and lumpy-looking young Mormon. And when his parents spirited him away on a mission, her romantic obsession went into overdrive, taking her first on a transatlantic trip to a “love cottage” in the Cotswolds, then into years devoted to lost love and finally to a lab in South Korea to have her beloved pit bull, Booger, cloned, producing five puppies. As Joyce describes her life, in a quote she attributes to Brigitte Bardot: “I gave my youth to men, and my old age I give to dogs that I trust.”
Errol has often explored the “all-consuming power of self-delusion” and Joyce is nothing if not consumed with her fantasy, her undying of love for “the one.” But as for her telling of the events that made her famous–I think it was in Richard Farina’s “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me” that I read, “just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.” With Joyce McKinney, just because her funny/sad story seems so outlandish, doesn’t mean it’s not (largely) true.
“Tabloid” opens Friday, July 15, in New York and other cities.