The Killer Inside Me

25 Jul

Title: The Killer Inside Me
Year: 2010
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writer: John Curran based on the novel by Jim Thompson
Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Bill Pullman
MPAA Rating: R, disturbing brutal violence, aberrant sexual content and some graphic nudity
Runtime: 109 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%

The Killer Inside Me is a film that’s beautifully shot, such a stylized direction was pretty much a given considering the source material, but it’s a film that’s being trashed by some because the hugely graphic violent and sexual content of it all completely overthrows the emotional complexities behind it, personally I’m kind of at the halfway point, I do realize Michael Winterbottom probably should have spent more time getting us to know the characters, or at least the main character, but I still thought this film was well done the way it is, the main character of this tale is a really complex and vivid one to portray, and yes, the script and direction could have given it more material for us to understand it all better, but with Casey Affleck portraying him I think we were off just fine.

Casey Affleck is a tremendous actor, his performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was seriously good, one of the three best of that year in my opinion, so when I found out it would be him tackling this role I realized we would be in good hands, and, coincidentally, Andrew Dominik, who directed The Assassination of Jesse James was first attached to do this film some five years ago or so, but pulled off after the original star, Tom Cruise, also pulled off, I do think this film is better off with Mr. Affleck as Lou Ford instead of Mr. Cruise, but I do think Mr. Dominik would have made a better film out of this material than what Mr. Winterbottom ultimately did.

Kate Hudson as Amy Stanton and Jessica Alba as Joyce Lakeland are the other two main characters, they are Lou’s girlfriend and a local prostitute, respectively, I thought Ms. Hudson, in a role for which Katherine Heigl, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Sienna Miller were all considered, was quite good, though I do believe Ms. Williams would have been a better choice. But something about Ms. Alba’s performance just didn’t do it for me, the other actresses considered for this role, Emily Blunt, Anne Hathaway or Amanda Seyfried, would have surely been better picks and would have enabled this film to further achieve it’s full potential, but it is what it is, and nevertheless, this film is all about Casey Affleck as Lou Ford.

Lou Ford is one of pulp novelist Jim Thompson’s bleakest creations, a guy who has no real comprehension of the line between good and evil, that’s what the title of the film is all about, there is a killer inside of Lou Ford, I don’t mean split-personalities type of killer, I mean that he kills people, some of whom he loves, and he really doesn’t know why, he just does it, he’s not the killer, but he has not control over the killer either, and that’s what’s so damn fascinating about him, and we feel for him, because he’s a guy that seems so nice, he has a girlfriend and his boss at the Police Department seems to like him just fine, but we know there’s so much more to him, and his calm voice in the voice-over narrations only makes it creepier.

The source material for this was a pulp novel, so you really can’t expect that much as far as explanations for the actions of the characters, but you would expect Mr. Winterbottom to at least offer some, the past of Lou Ford isn’t explained, we aren’t given much insight on his behavior towards women either, we are just shown how many women who like to be beaten around are attracted to him, and I think that’s why the violence came as such a shock to all the people who have watched this, because, even though we knew it was coming, we weren’t given any sort of preamble or warning sign, it just happened, and it’s seriously graphic stuff, too, so yeah, it’s shocking, and that’s when the movie will either lose you or keep you in its grasp, in my case it kept me in its grasp, it just wasn’t as tight a grasp as I would have liked it to be.

It kept me in its grasp because Casey Affleck is fantastic, he can really play this sort of character well, the way he played Robert Ford in The Assassination of Jesse James, a guy who can look all sweet and innocent but who’s convincing as hell when he shows us that underneath that is a killer instinct and a dangerous personality just bursting at the seams. We know The Killer Inside Me won’t give us an ending that will have us going home happy and cheerful, the title and synopsis of the film tells us so, but in those sort of films it’s at least important for the director to have us leave with some sort of closure, to have us come to terms with the story he’s told, and while Cassey Affleck gives one awesome performance there was too much missing as far as explanations go to have us really achieve this sort of closure.

Grade: B

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