Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Killer Inside Me" well-made but detached

The Killer Inside Me (2010) 
109 min., rated R.
Grade: C

Adapted from Jim Thompson's pulp noir, "The Killer Inside Me" never lets us in past its grim, pulpy cover. Casey Affleck, with his high-pitched, gravelly monotone and boyish veneer, plays Lou Ford, the polite deputy sheriff of a West Texas oil town in 1952 who is holding something inside: he's a sociopath. When he's forced to run a prostitute (Jessica Alba) out of town, he falls into a spank-and-screw affair with her. To make matters worse, Lou commits a double homicide, threatening the bride-to-be (Kate Hudson). 

Director Michael Winterbottom's second take on Thompson's source material is very well-made, enveloped in a moody but sunbaked atmosphere with a sure sense of time and place. Although, Winterbottom's ironic use of a light-minded rockabilly score feels misjudged and pacing is sometimes plodding when it should be taut as the skin on your face. 

Affleck manages a fine job of making Lou an unassuming and gracious gentleman with a twisted lunatic behind his eyes. Alba and Hudson finally go out of their comfort zones here, but Alba still has no weight as a performer. The brutal scenes of women being beaten to a pulp are awfully hard to take and will arouse incredulous gasps (you feel every punch). All that's missing is the reason to what makes Lou tick, leaving us detached. 

Perhaps that's the point, but it's still at the fault of adapter John Curran's script and Lou's slippery characterization. Sure, sordid backstory of Lou's incestuous, sadomasochistic relationship with his mother to child experimentation is revealed, but Patrick Bateman and Tom Ripley were more developed than Lou Ford. 

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