The Killer Inside Me (2010)
The best that can be said about director Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, A Cock and Bull Story, A Mighty Heart, The Trip, The Face of an Angel) is that he is a restless, well-read artist who seems hellbent on making as many movies in as many genres as humanly possible before his time on this planet draws to a close. This is an admirable trait. But too many of Winterbottom’s films have a distracted quality that suggests he was already thinking about the next production while shooting the one you’re paying good money to watch now.
It’s excusable when he’s adapting a Thomas Hardy novel because no one expects to enjoy a movie based on a Thomas Hardy novel, but when he takes on a pulp masterwork like Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, his inattention to detail is maddening. It’s all the more frustrating because Casey Affleck, with his high-pitched voice and awkward charm, is perfectly cast as the psychopath lawman Lou Ford. He’s a little off, but people like him, which is how he literally gets away with murder. Thompson’s book is remorseless and lean -- there’s not a lot of meat on the bone, but what’s there is choice and rare -- yet screenwriter John Curran goes heavy on exposition, dulling the razor-sharp edges of Thompson’s storytelling. To his credit, Winterbottom doesn’t back down from the book’s shocking violence, but it’s the overall sloppiness of the endeavor -- basic elements like shot composition appear to have been afterthoughts -- that leaves one feeling queasy. Thank god Winterbottom has at last found his cinematic calling: following Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they gallivant around Europe in The Trip. They’re the perfect match for his run-and-gun aesthetic.