The Killer Inside Me (review)

Lou Ford is a sheriff in 1950s Texas. He’s also a psychopath. He’s also the focal point of the repulsive The Killer Inside Me, a rare misfire from director Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart), one that is extra disturbing because while it appears shockingly senseless, senseless is not what Winterbottom does… and yet if this isn’t senseless, the only sense to be had is in giving voice to a murderous misogynist and letting him tell his story to his own vile heart’s content. Can there be any purpose beyond depraved titillation when a film so painstakingly staged as a classic, elegant noir is as soulless as its protagonist? There isn’t anything intriguing or enlightening in learning that Ford isn’t as clever or as suave as he thinks he is, as he fails to navigate a cesspool of corruption in his small town: he’s not an ordinary man turned tragic by his own failings but as close to a monster as humanity produces, a man incapable of human feeling, and one who acts to hurt others with no human response of his own. With nothing human to frame his action, the talented Casey Affleck’s (Gone Baby Gone) flat, numb delivery as Ford looks more like indifferent acting than deliberate choice. And there’s no comfort at all to be found in the reasoning that, hey, we’re seeing this all through Ford’s eyes, and that’s why the violent sex he engages in with Jessica Alba (Little Fockers), as the prostitute new in town, and Kate Hudson (Nine), as Ford’s sweet, naive girlfriend, has to be so lavishly meticulous… unless we’re meant to appreciate the dedication he brings to his hobby of brutalizing the women he apes being in love with. And it’s simply sickening to be forced to listen to Alba telling him she loves him while he smashes her face to a pulp: that may be Ford’s fantasy, but must we share it? Jim Thompson’s 1952 novel [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] upon which this is based was supposedly unfilmable: perhaps that was the correct assessment.

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