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Archive for June 9th, 2010

The Killer Inside Me

“The most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered” Stanley Kubrick

The above quote refers to the novel and is used in the movie trailer, The novels author Jim Thompson worked with Kubrick on the script for his movie The Killing (1956).

Who would take on such a movie? Lots of people have expressed an interest in the project, as well as the forgettable Burt Kennedy directed movie from 1976 with Stacy Keach as Ford there was a late 50’s early 60’s version set to star Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. That version never got off the ground and was scrapped completely following the tragic and untimely death of Monroe. A great shame, that’s a movie I would have liked to have seen. A 90’s project directed by Quentin Tarantino and featuring Uma Thurman, Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis also sounded interesting but didn’t go anywhere either, fortunately neither did the Brat Pack version from the 80’s with Tom Cruise and Demi Moore. So who is left to give it a go? British director Michael Winterbottom, responsible for such uncontroversial mainstream hits: The Road to Guantanamo, Butterfly Kiss and 9 Songs (readers not familiar with the work of Winterbottom please note the use of irony and sarcasm in my last sentence!) who else!

Told from the point of view of the main character, Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) complete with voiceover, there is little mystery about this movie, the story unfolds in front of our eyes. It is therefore impossible to review without some plot spoilers, I will try and keep them to what is commonly known about the movie and what can be seen in the trailer. Ford is a deputy sheriff in a small West Texas town, on the surface he is a simple man and a nice guy. He is sent to see a prostitute (Jessica Alba) with a view to running her out of town, despite having a steady girlfriend (Kate Hudson) Ford starts a relationship with her. His relationship with both women contains elements of sadomasochism, there are flashbacks giving insights into this and some of his other motives. There are a few tricks employed by the director such as the voiceovers that often contradict what we see onscreen. All this adds to the depth and richness of the movie. Brilliantly shot capturing a 1950’s feel perfectly but the main appeal of the movie is the fantastic acting. Casey Affleck has been gaining a reputation as a great actor in recent years and he doesn’t disappoint here, but neither do the two female stars Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba who both have questionable ability based on previous performances.  The rest of the cast is good too, Elias Koteas and veteran actor Ned Beatty in particular. Bill Pullman is little more than a cameo. The only person I didn’t find convincing was Simon Baker; there is nothing wrong with his performance, it is actually quite good, I just can’t look at him and see beyond his character in the TV show The Mentalist. The direction is concise and taut, a sign of a director who doesn’t feel the need to show off. The result is what in theory is a slow and thoughtful movie that doesn’t lose the viewers interest.

A monumental undertaking of a movie supremely handled by a talented director at the top of his game and not afraid to take chances. Despite all this I find it hard to recommend the movie as I know a lot of viewers will be repulsed by it. Told from the point of view of a sociopath who shows no remorse for his actions. Consequently there is some disturbing imagery including a scene of such shocking brutality that I can honestly say is the most repulsive thing I have seen in a movie since the rape scene in Irréversible (2002). Just like Irréversible. Despite these scenes both movie as a whole make compelling viewing. The film received an 18 certificate in the UK but was passed uncut. The BBFC’s classification information says: “There are scenes of sexual violence and threat, including a discreet child rape scene, and several shots of strong sadomasochistic sexual activity and violence”. It’s a very good film but watch it at your own risk not on my recommendation.

Four Stars out of Five

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