Thursday, 7 October 2010

THE KILLER INSIDE ME DVD review

Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray is Michael Winterbottom's new film, The Killer Inside Me.
Watch the trailer and find out more, after the jump...



Michael Winterbottom is a director who's always been able to switch between styles. I'd call myself a fan of his output, but can't see too many common themes between 24 Hour Party People's Madchester vibe and the snow hills and gold rush drama of The Claim. Here he takes a bold leap into film noir, and pitch black noir at that.


Local lawman Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) starts an affair with Joyce (Jessica Alba), a well meaning hooker who shares his appreciation of rough sex. Within this relationship his bubbling-under-the-surface rage and violent tendencies are brought to the boil. Ford also has a relationship with Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson), a school teacher clueless to his double life. Lou's work colleagues are starting to wonder if he's any way involved with some peculiar crimes in the area, but by covering them up he manages to stay one step ahead of them... for now. 


This film has took some heat for its depictions of violence against women, and whilst it's certainly unsettling, the point to its inclusion is obvious. Lou Ford is shown to be a sadomasochistic lunatic, and if you think he's someone to relate to, you've got problems that go back further than this film. Also, not to underplay what's shown (connecting punches are clear to see), but it never reaches the ultra violence of films like Irreversible. It's still quite a startling thing to see Affleck's character punish women for no real reason except for slight personal gain.


The character of Lou Ford is fairly reminiscent of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho; or perhaps that should be the other way around, given that Jim Thompson's 1952 source novel for this film, and its first person account of violence was an obvious influence on Brett Easton Ellis' novel. In their cinematic outings, Bateman's mania is easily matched by Ford's blunt brutality. There is a thrill Ford gets from committing murder, but it's far from the giddy, infectious high that Bateman gets.


The actual story is fairly inconsequential, but through flashbacks to his childhood allows a certain amount of mystery as to why Lou Ford chooses to act this way. He is a complex and dangerous character, and definitely isn't some sort of anti-hero you can relate to. I experienced a level of disgust at his propensity to enjoy both his violent outbursts and the relative ease in covering them up.


Casey Affleck is good, but it's not what I'd call an overly nuanced performance. Once the characters have been established, he's quite forth giving with the crazy eyes and the devilish smile, and although his attacks aren't signposted, are expected. Alba and Hudson are good in their highly sexualised but limited roles, and their inclusion in the cast really highlights the violence as Lou Ford smashes the beauty out of them.


A thought provoking and disturbing crime drama, anchored by a strong lead performance by Casey Affleck as the violent lawman. As a character study about violent offenders, it might actually be seen as quite an important film.


Verdict

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