Friday, July 9, 2010

The Killer Inside Me

Note: This is the first movie review I've included in my blog. The film is both controversial and mesmerizing. Everything about this film noir is superlative, but make no mistake, it is about the hidden person within us. In this case, the hidden person is violent--and Director Michael Winterbottom hides nothing--so, beware the content of this review as well.

I watched Killer Inside Me simply because Kate Hudson is in it. Not that I am a fan, but she appeared on The David Letterman Show to promote it and declared it unlike anything else she has done. Oh, how true! Normally, she plays fluff characters. This time, this time she plays a woman in love with a man who becomes quite simply, quite horrifyingly Jekyll/Hyde.

Who are we? Who is inside us? Is there a secret person just yearning to come out? How much is your public persona the very same being you harbor when no one else is around? Or does the mere presence of a particular other person urge the Shadow Self to declare itself? (Shadow: Jung's definition of the dark side)

Casey Affleck is the title character and plays it with absolute conviction. Was it difficult  going home after a day's shoot and returning to normal life? I wonder now what is normal for an actor who inhabits a character like Lou Ford, for this character and his actions made me sick. Note: I am not equating Affleck with Ford, but his stellar performance IS perfection.

I was flipping through movie choices when at the very bottom of the line-up, normally where the pornographic movies are listed, when I spotted this title and quickly rented it, remembering Kate Hudson's interview, not giving a single thought to the film's location. I should have. It has sado-masochistic, graphically violent content. Sickening content.

To what ends? What was the director's intent? Michael Winterbottom directs this film noir with an unflinching eye for veracity and sadistic boldness. He leaves some things to imagination, but vividly shows the circular route to self-destruction when a person loses hold on moral turpitude. He also shows what could be way down deep inside, idling, waiting to come out, as it is in Ford. In fact, I keep reflecting on Lord of the Flies, when one of the older boys continues to throw rocks closer and closer to one of the little ones, just short of breaking with societal rules. Lou Ford, however, takes this disconnect far deeper and, actually, to the utmost when he takes lives in the cruel abandonment of compassion, showing a total void of what makes us human.

The people in this 1950s West Texas town all know each other and have for years. Lou Ford is one of its favored boys all grown up and now deputy sheriff. Little did anyone know what he and his older sister (maybe stepmother, Affleck doesn't always enunciate clearly) did for fun. These memories serve as the trigger to his nihilistic, dead-end, dead-making behavior that rises from his assignment to chase the beautiful young prostitute (Jessica Alba) out of town. Instead, he connects psychically and sexually with her, opening the door to his hellish personality, the Shadow self, as Jung describes it.

There is always that little door in one's mind that must remain closed and locked. To open it is to invite disaster, mild or torrential. Once that door is open, it can never be closed again. Lou Ford opens that door when she slaps him. Let me be blunt: Violence begets violence. In fact, violence is pretty much a character in this film.

The number of murders good ol' boy, soft-spoken, loved-by-all Lou Ford commits from that point on is simply incredible. As with any deviant psycho personality, he believes he will continue his behavior undetected, although The Mentalist's Simon Baker is on to him. In the end Ford will be punished, but not the way the viewer may think or expect or want. Nor is the ending a good one. Just more shocking, horrifying aftermath.

So, what was Winterbottom's purpose, other than producing a very stylish, well-made film noir? The lessons are worthy: deviant behavior does not go unpunished, your companions may determine your future, doing something because it feels good may not be a worthy goal to pursue, it's best to leave some things alone.

Kate Hudson? Yeah, it's a different role all right. She definitely plays a character way out of her comfort zone. In fact, I did not recognize her in any way. 


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A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

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Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.