Caleb Landry Jones Is Phenomenal in “Nitram,” Which Recounts the Journey of a Mass Killer

5:25 p.m., May 10, 2022

It was the electroshock of the Cannes Film Festival 2021. In line withElephant (2003), the Palme d’Or by Gus Van Sant, Nitram, of the Australian Justin Kurzel, caused a strong emotion. The film tells the true story of a massacre in 1996 in Port Arthur (Tasmania) which left 35 dead and 23 injured. In the necessarily controversial role of the assassin, Caleb Landry Jones performs a striking performance of ambiguity, subtly transcribing the way in which this 29-year-old individual fell into murderous madness. Impressive, the 32-year-old American actor logically won the best actor award.

“It was already exceptional to present Nitram in Cannes, then to be rewarded, I do not realize ”, he huffed painfully, upset and his eyes rolling like marbles as he collected his reward. We spotted him ten years ago on the Croisette in Antiviral (2012), by Brandon Cronenberg, a disturbing science fiction story in which he played an unscrupulous doctor inoculating his patients with the illnesses of their idols!

Independent cinema

With his auburn hair, his face full of freckles, his piercing blue eyes and his lanky figure, Caleb Landry Jones is immediately noticed by his physique, which first earned him a living as a model. The child from Garland (Texas) made his first appearance in No Country for Old Men (2007), by the Coen brothers, before shooting for renowned authors in the secondary roles of often perverse characters: David Fincher (The Social Network), Xavier Dolan (Tom at the farm), Jordan Peele (get-out), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards – The Revenge Billboards), Sean Baker (The Florida Project) and Jim Jarmusch (The Dead Don’t Die). He also tasted the big Hollywood productions (X-Men – The Beginningby Matthew Vaughn) but it is in the more intimate works of independent cinema that he made his mark.

He arrived with the research he had obsessively gathered on the subject.

Caleb Landry Jones also has a career in music. During the pandemic, he released an album, The Mother Stone, a rock record with very Beatles arrangements. By meeting him, we discover a resolutely quirky boy, who wears, for example, an astonishing mustard suit on the day of our interview. He is mostly shy, modest and with his head on his shoulders. We understand why Justin Kurzel chose him to play mass killer Martin Bryant. “I went to Los Angeles to talk to him, remembers the director. In five minutes, I knew: he arrived with the research he had gathered on the subject in an obsessive way. I’ve often worked with stars who just read the script. There, I had a guy in front of me who was not joking. »

“I dreamed of it every night”

Caleb Landry Jones moved to Australia during the filming. “I learned that this news item broke the heart of the country, he indicates. Twenty-six years later, the wound is still raw. The massacre changed gun control laws. My character, who has suffered all kinds of abuse and suffers from a slight mental handicap, is idle, frustrated and isolated. Its vulnerability has turned into dangerousness. »

Assailed by fear, the comedian gained self-confidence thanks to details, such as mastering the Australian accent. ” At my arrival, he continues, I was placed in quarantine because of the pandemic so I practiced speaking with the nurse who called me every day. I took the time to immerse myself so deeply that I sometimes found myself shaking. But I didn’t lose my footing, I continued to follow my instincts. Even though I dreamed about it every night…”


By Justin Kurzel, with Caleb Landry Jones, Essie Davis and Anthony LaPaglia. 1h50. Out Wednesday.

In 1990s Tasmania, Nitram lives with her parents and is prone to mood swings. He locks himself in solitude, smothering the anger that growls within him… Shot chronologically to heighten the tension, this psychological drama, taken from a news item that traumatized Australia in 1996, explains what preceded the passage to the act of a mass killer. We are thinking of Elephant (2003) and to July 22 (2018). In the lead role, Caleb Landry Jones is a phenomenal individual in perdition, opposite the cream of Australian actors, Anthony LaPaglia (lantana and the series FBI – Missing) and Essie Davis (Mister Babadook). A frontal film but never complacent. SB

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Caleb Landry Jones Is Phenomenal in “Nitram,” Which Recounts the Journey of a Mass Killer