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.

6 comments:

  1. This is definitely one I'm looking forward to see

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  2. jervaise brooke hamsterJuly 25, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    I want to bugger Jessica Alba (as she was in 1999 when she was 18, not as she is now obviously).

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  3. You know, that book was so ugly that if the movie didn't go there it would not have anywhere to go. Thompson had two great skills, imho; making terrible people that you have to empathize with, and making crazy people that you don't realize are crazy (at least not at first). A lot of Thompson's stuff is so ugly that I don't like to read it, despite my love for this book as well as "Kill-Off" and "After Dark My Sweet."

    I really wanted to see this, but its US release was negligible.

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  4. Jurguens -- worth tracking down.

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    Darius -- I always found the book fresh and liberating. Agree with you that Thompson DID have the ability to get you to empathize with miscreants. I eat up this kind of material if it's well written and possesses balance, so his work speaks to me. Unfortunately, the theatrical release was tiny. Even in LA, it played on two screens only. Not sure if distributors lack faith or audiences?

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  5. I'll have to check this out. I've glossed over the title on demand but it didn't jump out at me at the time.

    Hey, how's the film coming? How's your health?

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  6. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobJuly 29, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    i want to bugger Kate Sexpot (as she was in 1997 when she was 18, not as she is now obviously) even though shes no-where near as pretty as her mother was when she was a young bird. By the way, i changed her surname because her real one reminded me of that dirty filthy disgusting faggot Rock Hudson the bloody pansy queer bastard, so from now on lets refer to her as "Kate Sexpot" its a much better name i think you`ll agree.

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