Errol Morris

BY Manori RavindranPublished Nov 10, 2011

For an Oscar-winning documentarian who has taken on everyone from pet cemetery owners to a man on death row, what is it about former beauty queen Joyce McKinney that so fascinates Errol Morris? Perhaps the better question is where to start? In 1977, the former Miss Wyoming was involved in the alleged kidnapping of her lover, Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, whom she had met in the U.S. "When I met my Kirk, it was like in the movies," the ex-model tells Morris in a high-spirited interview. But when McKinney discovered that Anderson had left America for the UK to embark upon a religious mission, she followed him, coordinated an elaborate scheme to save him from the organization and had the chutzpah to follow through. After collecting Anderson from a meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at gunpoint (granted, a fake gun), McKinney, with the aid of accomplice Keith May, drove her lover to the county of Devon, where she says they enjoyed three days of "fun, food and sex." It was later revealed by Anderson that this involved being tied up "spread eagle" to a bed and being raped repeatedly, allegations McKinney denies. "Kirk left with me willingly!" she scrawled on a note held up to the press on the way to a court appearance. And it only gets stranger. As McKinney became embroiled in judicial proceedings, she became a mainstay in British tabloids, mesmerized by her outlandish antics and precarious grip on reality. After fleeing to the U.S., two tabloid reporters followed and ensured her place in the headlines after uncovering her past as an escort and nude model, accusations McKinney vehemently denies. And she's been in and out of the tabloids ever since, most recently in 2008 after taking the alias of Bernann McKinney and cloning her dog in South Korea. In Tabloid, Morris tells McKinney's story with a whimsy that keeps pace with his kooky lead. Though the documentary, colourfully illustrated with cartoons, headlines and '50s film stock, is anchored by a solitary interview with McKinney, Morris talks to everyone from The Daily Mirror photographer that uncovered her provocative photos to the South Korean doctor that cloned her beloved Booger. But immediately obvious from these interviews are the stark discrepancies between McKinney's accounts and those around her. Who do we believe: a beautiful fabulist trying to "save" the man she loves or notorious tabloid reporters who'd stop at nothing for a scoop? In Morris's sordid tale nobody wins and McKinney knows it – just in time for the film's DVD release, McKinney is suing the filmmaker for defamation, fraud and a slew of other charges. Ultimately, you have to wonder: is McKinney the victim she makes herself out to be or are we all, including Morris, just hapless pawns in her master plan? It's hard to say. Unfortunately, there are no extras included with this release.

Latest Coverage