Monday, September 06, 2010

The Killer Inside Me: Grade B


The Killer Inside Me (2010)

Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Ned Beatty; Director Michael Winterbottom.

Casey Affleck is a revelation in this crime drama set in the 1950’s. His superb acting animates the main character, Lou, a psychopathic small town sheriff in the south, a well-worn cliché, to be sure, but he breathes life into it. The story gets off to a shaky start when he is ordered to run a prostitute (Alba) out of town, but decides to kill her instead, by beating her to death with his fists. (There is plenty of bloody brutality in the movie, especially directed toward women – another tired cliché we don’t need repeated). Why does he do that? There is some sketchy backstory about how a certain guy in town may or may not have facilitated the death of his brother years ago, in a construction incident that may or may not have been an accident. So when this other guy shows up at the prostitute’s place as arranged, Lou shoots him with her gun then places the gun in her hand, thus achieving revenge. But a detective from out of town is not satisfied with the evidence and relentlessly sniffs around until the predictable revelation and conflagration at the end.

So if this movie is just one predictable cliché after another, why give it such a positive rating? Acting is the main reason. It is riveting throughout, especially Affleck’s version of a calm, polite, friendly, cold-blooded psychopath. Directing is excellent. Sets and scenes are perfect. Cinematography is perfect. Costumes are perfect. The old cars are lovely. And the music is fantastic, mostly authentic period country, like Hank Williams, Carl Perkins, etc., but also with some very fine operatic interludes (Puccini, I think). This movie is so well constructed that you just have to give it a break and overlook the dreadful misogyny and clichéd story.

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