Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Killer Inside Me

Directed by: Michael Winterbottom

Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson

Rating: 7/10

There are many ways to look at a film like The Killer Inside Me. An exploitative schlock film with nothing to say, a misogynistic horror film, a wonderfully apt portrayal of the interior of an insane mind or even an attack on the dark side of the repressed social norms of 1950‘s America. Whether you like this film or not, and many people will not, it cannot be denied that it is shocking and is excellent food for thought.

Casey Affleck does a fantastic job here in his first role since his Oscar nominated turn in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It must be something about lunatics named “Ford” that gets right into Affleck’s soul but he sure knows how to portray them brilliantly. In The Killer Inside Me Affleck plays goody-two-shoes small town cop Lou Ford. Lou refuses to wear a gun because he believes there isn’t enough crime in town to warrant one. He is quiet, a little naive and kind-hearted. At least on the surface. Beneath the veneer, Lou is a sadomasochist, a sociopath and a misogynistic murderer. You might be forgiven for rolling your eyes and comparing the scenario to Hannibal Lecter, Patrick Bateman or even Dexter Morgan but the fact that the source material was written way back in 1952 means that Lou Ford was probably the reason those characters exist.

The story rambles along taking enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The screenplay is wonderfully written but I believe Michael Winterbottom’s amateurish direction didn’t do it justice. As is the case with most of Winterbottom’s films, he boasts fascinating subject matter but a complete lack of finesse when it comes to visual storytelling. That being said, there is enough darkness in Affleck’s eyes to make up for all the noir a palette could ever offer.

This is not a film for the faint-hearted with two of the most brutally frank and horrific murders I have ever seen on screen, it is difficult not to feel uneasy, particularly when the line between sexual violence and just plain violence is so blurred. There have been calls for blood from women’s group who feel that the film portrays an intense hatred for women. It does. But it is an intense hatred for women by a man who is a complete and utter lunatic. Black and white this ain’t, but the greyness is oh so fascinating.

A flawed, but interesting film. Sure to divide audiences. See it for Casey Affleck’s intricate characterisation, but avoid it if you’re averse to extremely cruel and unglossy violence.

 - Charlene Lydon

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