The Killer Inside Me is certainly thought-provoking. How do you feel about violence against women on film? What are your thoughts about violence on film, in general? What is the best possible career move for actresses Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba (I’ll get to this one later)?
I haven’t read any of pulp-crime writer Jim Thompson’s books, on one of which Killer is based, but Hollywood has a long history with his works (The Grifters, The Getaway). The late, great Stanley Kubrick was a Thompson fan. I think that prior to watching director Michael Winterbottom’s new movie, some familiarity with Thompson’s world would probably be of help. As Killer unfolded, I kept asking myself: “Who are these people? What makes them tick?” I’m guessing that the answers to these questions come more easily to Thompson fans.
In the case of “hero” Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), we probably don’t want to know who he is – not who he really is. Ford is a small-town cop, a young man seemingly as amiable as his high-pitched, West Texas drawl. Everyone in town knows soft-spoken Lou; they’ve known him since his childhood. Or do they really? Do they, for example, know that in his youth Lou sexually assaulted a little girl, then let his stepbrother take the fall for it? Do the townspeople know that Lou harbors near-constant urges to act violently?
Killer is nothing if not violent – primarily violence against women. There is one scene in particular, in which Alba’s character, a prostitute, is graphically pummeled in the face, which will probably mesmerize some in the audience, and repel others. We all know that violence is part of human nature, but do we need it spelled out in such detail? Your answer to that question will probably determine how you react to this film, overall.
The performances are praiseworthy. Affleck is a study in sociopathic coolness as he vacillates between inbred Southern manners and the “sickness” within. His amoral cop listens to classical music, surrounded by shelves of books in his father’s study, while contemplating his next atrocity. Hudson and Alba are apparently on board to transition their careers from eye-candy roles to “serious actress.” In this movie, that requires both of them to bare all (well, at least their derrieres … well, at least Alba’s derriere; Hudson might have used a double) in rough-sex scenes.
My guess is that any potential controversy over the violence in this film will come to nothing. Killer isn’t mainstream enough to garner much attention outside of, possibly, the art-house circuit. Grade: B-
Director: Michael Winterbottom Cast: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas, Tom Bower, Simon Baker, Bill Pullman, Rosa Pasquarella Release: 2010
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