The psychology of a sociopath has always intrigued me. The masks that they wear to hide who they truly are. What started their deviations. Michael Winterbottom's film "The Killer Inside Me" is a masterful approach to unmasking one psychopath set to a noir thriller in the 1950's.
Winterbottom's film feels like an instant classic. It is a impeccable dissection of sociopath who used sadism as one of his outlets. Not only is the film a thrilling look into the mind of a killer, but it also houses a fantastically rich and layered crime story. A crime story that takes us back to the noir crime novels and films of the 20th Century. One could easily conceive that director Michael Winterbottom has achieved his own Hitchcockian film.
The backdrop of the film really helps to complete the thriller. Set in the 1950's and in West Texas there is a feeling of class and properness to the 109 minute thriller. As the character Lou Ford says at the start of the film, "Out here you're a man and a gentleman, and god help you if you are not." There is something that I find beyond fascinating about a psychopath hiding his dark interior within a gentleman's exterior. Hiding is something that Lou has done very well. He has masked his emotions and outlets so that those around him believe him to be safe.
Michael Winterbottom does a polished job of delivering a explicit tale and keeping it completely tasteful. A substantial aspect to the film is Lou Ford's sexual outlets with women. Both his girlfriend (Kate Hudson) and the prostitute (Jessica Alba) he falls into a sadomasochistic relationship with. While there is nudity throughout, Winterbottom and editor Mags Arnold do a flawless job cutting the film to never become overbearing or just a sexual exploitation. The movie is first and foremost a look inside the mind of a killer as everything is falling apart around him, the sexual escapades are only a mere outlet to his disorder, and thankfully Winterbottom keeps it as such.
Casey Affleck deserves some serious recognition for his portrayal. Affleck is spellbinding as Lou Ford. His presences throughout the film is haunting and gentlemanly. He is cool as a cucumber one minute and devilish the next. Not since Anthony Perkins have I seen an actor play a psychopath so brilliantly. There is no denying that Casey Affleck deserves a little gold man named Oscar for his work here. Absolutely stunning performance.
Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba both deliver touching performances as the women in Lou's life. Alba isn't given much to do other than look pretty and get beat down while Hudson is given the brunt of the dramatic development. Their shared scenes with Affleck are strong, however the best development comes from the men surrounding Lou Ford. Particularly Lou's partner or boss, Sheriff Bob Maples grandly played by Tom Bower. Bower and Affleck are dynamite on screen together. They nearly feel like father and son, not to mention how trusting Bob is of Lou. Just brilliant character development.
Rounding out the rest of the cast, Simon Baker, Elias Koteas, Ned Beatty, Brent Briscoe and Matthew Maher all deliver stellar performances. They each help to make "The Killer Inside Me" a beautifully put together noir thriller that houses a unblemished cast of actors playing some wonderfully developed characters. One last acting mention must be made, Bill Pullman is exceptional trading off dialogue with Casey Affleck in a very bit but affective part near the end.
In summation, "The Killer Inside Me" is a near masterpiece. Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of the American crime novel of the same name is absolutely unmarred. Casey Affleck delivers his best performance to date, one that is absolutely enthralling to watch. The calmness Affleck portrays is haunting and as I said earlier, his performance deserves an Academy Award. I've always been a fan of old noir and Hitchcock-esque movies, but now I have a brand new one to enjoy for years to come.