Welcome To The Deuce

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Killer Inside Me (2010)

Much has been made of Jim Thomson’s pulp novel in which this film is based on, labelled as one of literatures great ‘unfilmables’ - like Naked Lunch and American Psycho before it - but for British filmmaker, Michael Winterbottom of 9 Songs infamy, filming the unfilmable is his bread and butter. Here though, instead of hardcore sex he’d be filming material far less explicit, but equally repugnant as Kieran O’Brien’s erection; hardcore violence, more specifically – hardcore violence against women. Blasted as misogynistic from the get-go, it all goes to show a startling level of narrow mindedness when dealing with context; as The Killer Inside Me is a serious study of a man losing control, and the danger he poses to those around him.

Casey Affleck plays Lou Ford; a small town Texan deputy in 50’s America who is seemingly loved by all around him for his gentlemanly southern manners and his will to do good towards his neighbours and township. Just because they grew up with Lou though, doesn’t mean they understand him; as we’ll find out. He’s in a strong relationship with the town’s sweetheart Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson) but little does she know he’s also having an affair with prostitute, Joyce (Jessica Alba).

He’s passionate and himself around Joyce, as they explore various acts of kinky intercourse which he would never dream of acting out on Amy. This penchant for rough sex and violence isn’t new to Lou though, as a flashback provides us with a shocking glimpse into Lou’s horrific past. It’s this traumatic past that will set in motion a series of events that will see Lou take multiple lives while trying to maintain his guise as town deputy and not slip into complete psychosis while trying to rid himself of any blame for these horrific crimes. As each mistake brings with it more trouble, Lou’s mask of sanity slowly starts to slip.

First of all, nobody could play Lou Ford better than Casey Affleck. Taking his creepy introverted, yet somehow endearing, persona of Robert Crawford from 2007’s under-appreciated The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Crawford, Affleck gives the performance of his career here. He’s polite and likeable one minute, then grinning with malicious intent the next; while random acts of aggression are carried out care free. He gives the most lifelike depiction of a serial killer since Michael Rooker’s groundbreaking take on Henry Lee Lucas in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer – only this time, it’s more frightening for the fact that Lou CAN hold back when he wants too, he decides when he acts and his charm is his ultimate weapon.

Winterbottom fills the film with equally hate-filled men. Every mean natured act carried out in this film is a result of male hate. Women are portrayed as loving and caring, to a fault it seems, whereas men are nothing but beasts that’ll destroy anything to get what they want. Is this sounding misogynistic at all to you yet? The womens' willing to accept and to trust this man is their fatal flaw as Lou exploits this for his own gain. Now, the violence is indeed hard-hitting – especially for a mainstream American picture with A-list actors – but anyone who knows anything about the film or the book will know to expect this. When violence does arrive, its stomach churning for the fact that it dares to show the consequences of the act - some call this extreme, I like to call it sensible filmmaking: Show this to your kids.

The film does disappoint somewhat though, the strong opening half hour leads into a slow burning middle section that doesn’t quiet feel right. It’s too drawn out, something seems to be lost in translation here – it could be the faithfulness to the book having it’s affect on the adaptation, so those who have read the book may benefit more during this period. It’s this extended period of nothingness that brings the film down and prevents it form becoming something truly spectacular. The final third though picks up the speeds and provides a literal stomach punch for the audience as Lou’s illness takes full control of him.

Michael Winterbottom’s first American film might not be the classic a lot of us hoped, but thanks to its beautiful cinematography, knock-out lead performance and a uncompromising look at some horrific material ranks Killer Inside Me as one of 2010 must-see movies, those who have read the book may view the film and see parts that others will miss but regardless of the fact, you’ll walk away with a respect for the film; weather or not you truly like it is another matter – can films this unflinching truly be likeable? It’s a tough one, but I look forward to re-watching this in the comfort of my own home, which may benefit the film second time round. Come Oscar time I’d like to see at least 3 nominations for this movie (Actor, Cinematography and best Adapted Screenplay, please), but how far has Hollywood come? Guess we’ll see next May.

The Killer Inside Me is in cinemas now.

No comments:

Post a Comment