Thursday, 10 June 2010
REVIEW: The Killer Inside Me
Nobody has it coming. That's why nobody sees it coming.
It's almost a shame that all anyone who sees The Killer Inside Me will be able to talk about is violence. It's certainly consumed the release of this film, as people both defend artistic freedom and decry gruesome excess, but I sure hope it doesn't consume its legacy, because its such an interesting film. There's so much here to see, be it good or bad, indulgent or transcendent. There's parts of me that wants to say its all four and more, but taken from a moment to moment basis, The Killer Inside Me does some shit you won't see done better all year.
Michael Winterbottom is an experimental film-maker until it kills him. And a consequence of that is that he'll always try something new at the expense of potential catastrophe rather then do something he knows to work by experience. It makes his films unique but it doesn't always make them good, as Anyone who has seen 9 songs will no doubt testify to. But this is one of his better ones, possibly his best one. A sun-baked southern noir, which revises not only its genre, in which our small town cop isn't a reluctant hero, but a dead-eyed, misogynist psychopath, but also of its setting and gentile code of values. As our resident monster Lou Ford says, if you're not a gentleman out here, then you're nothing at all. There's a wonderful sense of him being the absolute worst man for his time and place, and he continues to walk free because the very idea that anyone could be so abhorrent right here is just inconceivable.
Of course a lot was going to be depend on getting the right actor to play Ford, but Affleck goes beyond right for the role. He's fucking extra-ordinary, giving a performance of such restrained complexity and subtelty in a role that would have been so easy to K.O through exaggeration. I'd say that playing a serial killer is easier then some roles, but there's just so much originality and talent on display in what Affleck does here that any compliment I can think of just doesn't seem like enough. The best performance of the year and then some. Not that far behind him at all though, in a sentence I never thought I'd get to write ( or want to, I saw Bride Wars) is Kate Hudson. Hudson hasn't exactly been particularly proficient in quality since her breakthrough in Almost Famous, but she's fantastic here. Seriously. Kate Hudson. Perhaps the weakest of the stars is Alba, who looks slightly ill at ease with some of the period dialogue, although she's by no means awful and this is comfortably the best performance she's ever given. But have no doubt it won't matter when Affleck's on screen.
To the violence I guess. I get why this is appalling people, but put it this way, if you believe that showing violence with consequences is more morally responsible then doing it Dark Knight style, Then this is one morally responsible film (lol) because the violence in The Killer Inside Me is well and truly hideous. To its strictest definition. One of them in particularly, will be etched in my memory forever as one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen. But the problem is that it does only happen to women. Its the more psychologically honest way to portray it and commenting on misogyny and psychopathy this uncompromisingly is going to lead to a few cries of misogyny. But anyone inclined to this kind of behavior who watches this film isn't going to like what they see. It's going to be a fairly repulsive mirror for them to look in. I get being disgusted by this film, but trying to justify that disgust with principle isn't something that's entirely convinced me. Yet anyway.
The film isn't perfect, and Winterbottom's blatant disinterest with the film's plot does start to take its weight in the film's middle and the worst thing you can do to a semi-complex plot is ignore it, because it becomes more noticeably a weaker aspect of your film, and any time Elias Koteas came on screen I knew it was about to be ten minutes of watching a director showing no interest in his material. I think he jumped on this film for all things pertaining to Affleck's character, and once the film truly gives itself to him, then it becomes something remarkable. Viewed in the right way, which is to say that what's right with it is good enough to allow what's wrong about it not to matter, it might even be something amazing. A film like no other though, that's for sure. A shout out to the bitching credit sequence, which although tonally inappropriate was still frickin awesome.