To the right, please find the poster for HBO’s Dr. Kevorkian biopic, premiering Saturday night and starring Al Pacino as the man who assisted in 130 suicides. Above Pacino’s wizened mug runs the tagline, “Is this the face of a killer?” Below runs the title of the project, You Don’t Know Jack. The poster asks a question, and then suggests we can’t possibly know the answer, in the hopes of creating the following effect: “If you think this looks like a nice guy, you might be wrong! And if you think this looks like a murderer, you might be wrong, too! This whole Dr. Kevorkian situation is very complicated!” (Interviewing Pacino in today’s Times, David Carr writes, “the film was not intended to settle the profound moral and legal issues surrounding Dr. Kevorkian, but to create a nuanced portrait of a man who has lived in headlines and incendiary sound bites.” See, it’s complicated.) Problem is, the face on the poster is impossible to confuse with that of a nice guy. It might as well read “Is this the face of a killer? Yes, yes it is.”
Here are the three reasons why:
1. The glasses. Al Pacino is wearing serial-killer glasses.There are not that many serial killers who have actually worn such frames (though there are a handful) but, nonetheless, they emanate creepy, serial killer–ness.
2. Al Pacino’s smirk.This is never a good sign. When Al Pacino smirks, he is either the devil, a lethal double agent, a historical-level jerk, or an unhinged casino owner immune to George Clooney’s charms. When he smirks, he is a monster.
3. The brush cut. Last time Pacino had a graying brush cut he was playing Michael Corleone. That guy was definitely a killer.