Saturday, July 24, 2010
The Killer Inside me
There's a lot wrong with Casey Afleck's lawman character in The Killer Inside Me, but there's little wrong with the film itself. Coming to cinemas accompanied by mostly scathing reviews, the type typically reserved for films in which violence against women is depicted graphically and realistically, this Michael Winterbottom adaptation of a great Jim Thompson crime novel is a work of uneasy, exquisite poetry.
Afleck is a quietly spoken lawman with some issues. In fact, he's all issues, but that doesn't stop him from doing his job (even if that job involves investigating his own murders). When his murders attract the attention of his colleagues, he's forced into defensive mode, and that's when the film gets really interesting.
The key to sucking something substantial from this film is the title. Afleck lives with a killer inside him, a killer partially spawned by a childhood rife with abuse, but, thankfully, the film doesn't attempt to psychobabble the issue or reach for groundbreaking revelations regarding his condition. As a result, the fascination level is high.
In subtle ways, the film reminded me of John McNaughton's Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer. Although Afleck's killer hasn't achieved anything of serial proportions (as far as we know), his acceptance of the sociopath within parallels that of 'Henry'.
Afleck, who is always strong, wears this character like a bloody cocoon, and manages to convey the boy next door, a sweet charmer with a crooked smile.
Casey's lady friends, played by Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson, don't fair well when the drama's done and it's quitting time. Both take beatings that, filmically, are on par with the sudden and terrible violence of Once Were Warriors. Blood is spilled often, and there is a persistent tension that imbues every frame.
American reviews of this flick have been (mostly) negative and British reviews have seen past its extremes and into its frightening beauty.
I'm definitely with the Brits on this one, even though they once incarcerated my kind and sent us to the hell that used to be The Land Down Under. Memories like that ruffle the feather of the convict inside me.