Finally got around to checking this one out and I gotta say that considering the NC-17 rating, I was expecting things to go much further and more over-the-top than they ultimately did (about the only thing the was truly shocking to me was the now-infamous chicken leg scene); of course, the fact that I'm somewhat hardened in my movie-watching habits probably made this easier for me take and enjoy so there is that to consider as well. Even so, there is still enough graphic violence, kinky sex, depravity, craziness and dark comedy to hold the attention of anyone who can appreciate this kind of modern-day exploitation fare and to earn the ire and contempt of more timid and conservative filmgoers. One benefit of having a plot like this that is so rife with insanity is that there is no way to predict where this is all headed which serves to heighten the levels of tension and suspense alongside the twisted, jet-black humor herein. Ultimately, the film rewards us with a violent, contentious and delightfully open-ended finale. Besides all of this, the first rate cast is also another huge plus in this film's favor and no one shines brighter than Matthew McConaughey. I think it's safe to say that between this and The Lincoln Lawyer, I am now fully convinced of this man's talent to do something far more than coast by in one forgettable romantic comedy after the other. Although a case could be made that he was still mining familiar territory with The Lincoln Lawyer (the role could basically be considered a throwback to his breakthrough part back in 1996's A Time To Kill, albeit an older, more cynical and world-weary version of that character) with this assignment, he manages to effectively step outside of his usual persona to essay what has to be the darkest, most twisted character of his career. For his part, he is still as charming and charismatic as ever but there is always a sense of malevolence and menace underneath the cool and smooth exterior that comes out in the most shocking of ways from time to time (such as the chicken leg scene). I never thought in a million years that I would ever say this but I would argue for an Oscar-nomination here although the controversial nature of the movie and the role will rule that out (if a nomination for McConaughey is likely at all at this point, it would probably be for Magic Mike, which I've yet to see but might need to check out now, God help me). The rest of the cast doesn't quite reach McConaughey's level but they do their best to hold their own. Thomas Hayden Church brings a understated, dry wit to his role as the dim-witted Ansel (kinda like his character in Sideways but with a Texas drawl and a dimmer mental capacity), and Emilie Hirsch gives a reasonable approximation of desperation for his part as Chris, whose drug money debt provides the catalyst for the chaos in which we find ourselves here (to compare to some of Hirsch's previous roles, this one is much closer to Alpha Dog than to The Girl Next Door). Gina Gershon doesn't have as much to do except act slutty and trashy (such as in her memorable introductory scene) and get seriously degraded in one scene, but it's always nice to see Gershon on screen (and she is still incredibly attractive despite now being officially a pentagenarian). I would say that the second strongest impression besides McConaughey is made by the young British actress and rising starlet, Juno Temple, as Dottie, Chris's younger sister (and Ansel's daughter). Temple kinda resembles a blonde and slightly curvier version of Ellen Page (who incidentally once played a fictional character with Temple's real-life first name) but her performance here reminded me more of Juliette Lewis's Oscar-nominated breakthrough role in Scorsese's Cape Fear remake (this was back when Lewis showed legitimate promise as an actress). As Temple's career develops, one can only hope that the trajectory is more like Page's and less like Lewis's but for the time being, there is plenty of promise here. Not only does she don an incredibly sexy and nearly flawless (at least from my perspective) Texan accent but she effectively brings out both the vixen and the virgin in her portrayal. It takes a great director to hold this all together and William Friedkin has proven himself over his decade-long career to be just that. This may not be up to the same level as The French Connection or To Live and Die in L.A. but it's provides more than enough evidence that this veteran filmmaker's edge hasn't dulled with age. Despite the Hollywood A-list credentials, this is definitely *not* mainstream fair but if you're a fan of ultra-hip, Southern-fried, post-Tarantino comedy/thrillers that aren't afraid to let it all hang out, you will find that this provides plenty of lurid and trashy thrills. It may not be edifying but it's damn entertaining!