Sunday, 22 August 2010


Icon Film Distribution
Now Showing

As an exercise in style, Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me could be considered a success. An adaptation of Jim Thompson's pulp novel of the same name (from a screenplay by John Curran), the Brit director has nailed the noirish elements: the sparse, hardboiled dialogue, the murky morals and motives, the manly men and their blatant misogyny. But it is this last trait that has become a sticking point for audiences.

There are two scenes of unflinchingly brutal violence, the only real acts of violence shown on camera, and both are committed against women. The first (and worst) of these scenes sees Jessica Alba's face beaten to a pulp; the second has Kate Hudson kicked repeatedly before we watch her life slowly ebb away.

Both of these horrific acts are committed by Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) who views his involvement with Alba's prostitute as a means of settling some old scores (she happens to be the mistress to the son of the town's Mr. Big), and his engagement to Hudson's Amy Stanton as a concession to convention until she, too, becomes a means to an end.

Affleck does insouciant evil perfectly, as witnessed in his breakthrough role in The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007). His Deputy Ford talks in a whispered drawl, concealing the well of rage and hate buried deep down but which is slowly making its way to the surface and erupting at inopportune times for the women in his life.

I don't necessarily believe this depiction of violence against women makes Winterbottom a misogynist, but one has to question the inclusion of such brutal acts, especially given that almost all other violence in the film, directed at men, for the most part occurs off screen. It is these two acts which ultimately renders Winterbottom's intent muddied or, rather, bloodied.

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