Crime drama from director Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart, 24 Hour Party People) starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. Now playing at select independent cinemas. Click here for session info.
British director Michael Winterbottom is known for following his filmmaking muse, with his work running a gamut of genres including drama, comedy, science fiction and unsimulated sex (if such a section exists in the video store apart from that one, y’know, that’s discretely tucked away). Here he goes noir, with this adaptation of classic pulp fiction writer Jim Thompson’s perhaps most brutal novel, The Killer Inside Me.
Typically for Winterbottom, it is a beautifully shot effort, with small-town Texas looking amazing on the big screen and boasting a visual style that bolsters the film’s subject matter. Casey Affleck delivers a chilling performance as a sociopathic deputy sheriff whose charming veneer shatters as we’re introduced to his taste for violence of both the straight-up and sexual kinds. Not the nicest fellow to play then, especially when beating the living daylights out of Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson in unflinching scenes that earned the film notoriety upon release. There’s nothing voyeuristic about these moments though, difficult to watch as they might be, as they’re some of the few moments where The Killer Inside Me really makes an impact on the audience.
Yes, it looks good and the narrative has the potential to be gripping, but Winterbottom’s film doesn’t really connect on an emotional level as its characters always seem to be distant from the viewer. The film fails to make anywhere near the impact it should, and falls short of the sustained noir atmosphere required, instead being something that has the ability to shock but never quite deliver on its potential.