Chapter 27

Director: Jarrett Schaefer
Screenwriters: Jarrett Schaefer

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


What went on in the mind of the man who felt compelled to assassinate John Lennon? Chapter 27 deftly pilots us into the dark psyche of Mark David Chapman the weekend before the December 8, 1980, shooting. Inspired by Chapman's recollections, and propelled by a haunting, tour-de-force performance from Jared Leto, the film unravels the web of literary associations and cultural signs through which Chapman processes the world as he releases his grip on reality.

Fresh from Hawaii, Chapman spends the better part of three days posing as an autograph seeker at the Dakota, Lennon's abode. As he hovers in the wintry cold, striking up oddly charged conversations with a devoted fan, Chapman's narration reveals that he is self-consciously, almost spiritually, ingesting his prophetic holy book, The Catcher in the Rye. Whipping himself into a twisted incarnation of Holden Caulfield, he adopts Holden's speech patterns, hires a prostitute, and spots phonies everywhere. In his spiral into mental collapse, he even seems to be following in Holden's footsteps. At the height of his derangement, this merging becomes so complete that he yearns to disappear into J.D. Salinger's pages. In a brilliant mimetic move, the film also converges with the book, structuring itself as a first-person stream of consciousness related from the future.

Neither celebrating nor sensationalizing, Chapter 27 explores a figure whose psychological mechanisms we can interpret but never fully penetrate, raising the question, can we ever really know another person's interior experience?

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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