Sunday 13 June 2010

Review: The Killer Inside Me

Year: 2010
Director: Micheal Winterbottom
Screenplay: John Curran
Starring: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba

The Plot is here

I feel that The Killer Inside Me is one of the best films I've seen this year. It features an award winning performance from Casey Affleck, powerful scenes executed with meticulous craft by Micheal Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People) and an absorbing story that kept me engaged for all of it's running time.With this all said, I feel I can never watch this movie again.

As a filmgoer whose DVD collection feature such disturbing watches as Irreversible, Benny's Video and Funny Games amongst others; I'm no stranger to "distressing" watches. I'm not a complete wimp and I've seen my fair share of violence on screen. Despite this, images within The Killer Inside Me have been seared into my brain. It's been two days since I watched the movie and I'm still thinking about it. I guess it's down to how unassuming the film appears to be at first. Winterbottom's film gives us a board view of small time America, a picturesque and peaceful town that could could be anywhere. A town that wouldn't know what to do with the word murder let alone an actual one. When the sparse but brutal violence takes place, it hits hard and reminds in the memory. These scenes puncture the landscape. So remorseless are the scenes and so tense the build up, we suddenly realize how we take violence for granted. Suddenly we are stained by the violence.

Much has been said about the time taken over the acts afflicted upon the women over the men. Cries of misogyny have been loud, but to me, it expertly shows how inhuman the man we are dealing with is. Your meant to be shook by what you see and I don't think you would get that if the violence towards the men was equally inflicted. By reacting so strongly, Winterbottom reminds us that we still have humanity. It reminds us where our morals lie.

Winterbottom then begins to complicate things even more, juxtaposing Affleck's soft spoken narration with the actual goings on within the scene. Affleck's Ford reigns emotion at every turn and with the film being told from his point of view, we can never be too sure what to believe. The camera however, never lies and Winterbottom wisely uses classical film techniques to highlight Ford guilt and true nature. Reverse shots display the distance between Ford and other characters, a trip to jail has Winterbottom frame Ford behind bars (see Psycho's mise en scene). The cinematography only help fully illustrate the portrait of the psychopath on show.

Affleck's disaffected performance builds upon the jaded jealous creature he created in The Assassination of Jesse James. His honey sweet southern drawl and baby face only hides the insanity for so long. It hurts to watch, as we see it madness seep through the cracks. His dead eyed stare sums up the complete amorality of the character. Every glance is like a calculation to a incomprehensible formula. There's no rhyme or reason to the actions we see, no emotion, the word love is mention continuous by the character but he see others only as objects. What made it so unnerving for me was watching this character perform brutal acts like a reflex, there's no difference between this men disfiguring a young women and putting his socks on. It's difficult to even describe the crawlspace that this character resides in let alone act it. Casey effortless display shows us where all the performing talent lies in the Affleck family.

I was very surprised how strong I found the main support in the film. Alba and Hudson aren't usually actresses I gravitate to, mostly because of the dreck they love to land roles in. Here however, Abla is a searing combination of sexuality and vulnerability. in a few short scenes she manages to load her character with an added layer of contradiction within the film, blurring the line between pleasure and pain, and highlighting Lou Ford's disturbing history and aggravating his murderous streak. Hudson adds a little balance to proceeds bringing warmth to the other female in Ford's life. Hudson's role is also sexual, but also provides enough care to a character to make a scene in the third act very difficult to watch. Support is neatly completed by small roles by Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas and Bill Pullman

2010 looks set to be a movie year about fractured mindscapes. Scorsese had his bombastic Shutter Island, while Christopher Nolan wishes to take over summer with Inception. Winterbottom's feature is an absorbing insight into the mind of a psychopath. Expertly showing the fragility with jump cut edits, perturbing flashbacks and laying the main characters hideous nature within techniques you'd expect to see in Hollywood's golden age. From it's unflinching and graphic portrayal of violence to it's characters of contradiction, I found The Killer Inside Me a truly engaging thriller. I liked the say I enjoyed it however, may label me a sadist.