Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Killer Inside Me

It looks like no expense was spared in acquiring the props for The Killer in Me. They seem to have rounded up an endless supply of 1940s and 50s cars, set them among period buildings and populated the film with faces that look right for period. The clothes, furniture and even the way of talking seems right. The only cast member who looks out of place is Jessica Alba, and even she could be excused her exotic looks on the grounds that she is a prostitute from out of town. Though what a woman this good looking is doing working as a small town prostitute rather than making it big in Hollywood stretches credulity.

The script is based on a 1952 pulp novel of the same name. As the title indicates it is the story of murder told from the murderer's point of view. I haven't read the book so I don't know if the faults in the film lie with the book or its translation to film. Outwardly Lou Ford is a fine upstanding young man, living a house he inherited from his dead parent in Central City, Texas. Where he is now a Sheriff's depute. On the inside he is much darker, with an unhealthy attitude to women that up till now he has managed to hide from the girl friend that is more interested in him than he is in her. In fact it seems odd that Lou, who prefers to spend his off duty time sitting alone reading old books and listening to opera or playing the piano, even has a girlfriend. But I guess psychopaths have to keep up appearances.

I wanted to like this movie. I am a sucker for stylish movies. But the stylishness and polish of The Killer Inside Me casts its faults into sharp relief. Is it the difficulty of converting a novel into a film that accounts for all the loose plot threads? How and why does Joe Rothman (the union man) know and figure out so many of Lou's secrets before people closer to him? The initial scene between Lou and Joyce stretches credulity to point that I wonder if Lou is a reliable narrator. How does Lou so effortlessly find the masochistic women he craves? But the house doused in petrol through which a hoard of people can walk through without smelling it, and even safely smoke in, which later literally explodes in flame is the biggest fault.

The film highlights a strange American attitude that a film about murder and sex can show some simulate sex (with clothes on) and graphic and sustained violence (worse than in the splatter movie Dream Home) yet it can't show any nudity. (The film gets it's nudity rating from a brief shot of a woman's buttocks). May be I am a decadent European, but give me nudity over someone being slowly beaten into a pulp.

Casey Affleck is very effective as the outwardly charming psychopath Lou Ford, and Ned Beatty is effortless as the one dimensional but under estimated Chester Conway. But unfortunately the film follows the solitary Lou around so much that the other actors merely get walk on bit parts. (Literally the film consists of people turning up to say something to Lou and leaving or Lou arriving somewhere to say something and then leaving.) This may accurately reflect the self centred nature of Lou Ford and his inability to know anyone around him any better than the pigeon holed stereotype he labels them with, but it makes telling some of the story threads difficult.

Ian's rating 2.5/5

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