Friday, June 18, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Released June 18, 2010

It’s hard to get inside the mind of a killer. One of the aspects which makes it difficult is that insanity, in some form, is often part of his motivation for doing what he does. Providing a direct path into the killer in question’s brain by having him narrate his own story does help considerably in meting out his impulses and motives. It’s still not easy, and while the new film “The Killer Inside Me” tries hard to get inside the mind of psychotic sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), it doesn’t quite achieve that as well as it thinks it does.

“The Killer Inside Me” starts off with an extremely stylized and fun opening credits sequence which accompanies the names of its actors with still photographs of them from the film, set to upbeat, energetic music. From that beginning, it slows down and zooms in to introduce Lou, a seemingly harmless and kindly sheriff who stresses the importance of calling women “ma’am” and apologizing to anyone you catch with their pants down, even if you’re about to arrest them (in his own words). As the film’s title implies, Lou is also prone to violent urges and the unfortunate brutal battering of women that ensues.

Lou’s dual role as cop and killer isn’t nearly as fascinating as it should be because he is too confident from the start that he’ll get away clean with what’s he done. There’s no frantic panicking or sleepless nights because Lou possesses few emotions, as becomes clear from the way he discusses his (lack of) feelings candidly with the audience during his narration. Understanding just how devoid of sentiment and humanity Lou is doesn’t require seeing the grotesque beating he delivers to female characters in the film, and this is one case of a movie using excessive violence for seemingly sensationalist purposes. The same horrifying effect could have been achieved by cutting to a shot of Lou’s face rather than staying on the woman’s bloodied face for an entire minute.

There are moments of greatness in “The Killer Inside Me” indicative of a far more compelling film, most notably the careful cinematography and eternally-present foreboding mood. At one point, Lou tells an anonymous deputy that he shouldn’t speak because he hasn’t been given any lines. It’s a daringly clever scene, but it doesn’t reference much else other than the assumption that Lou sees his life as playing out like a movie. The film becomes less compelling as its protagonist begins to lose touch with reality and normalcy, and leaves off on a note of still wanting more information about this hidden killer. There’s still something to be said for the intrigue which it does provide, and the typically nuanced and subtle lead performance by Casey Affleck. This isn’t a great film, but it’s certainly a good and thought-provoking one.


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