Film Review: The Killer Inside Me

14/06/2010

Michael Winterbottom’s controversial film is at times hard to watch, with its brutal depictions of violence. The Killer Inside Me, however, is for the most part a well-crafted drama, with strong performances from its cast.

Centering on a deputy sheriff in a small Texan town, The Killer Inside Me explores the mind of this psychologically damaged individual. As the film progresses, the extent of his psychosis becomes more apparent…

The character of Lou Ford is a complex and intriguing one. His cool exterior is gradually ebbed away until the facade of normality begins to slip in front of those closest to him. The attitude of the women in his life will be hard to relate to for many audience members, but is nonetheless convincing, sadly.

Casey Affleck gives an excellent performance as the protagonist Ford. It is understated, yet incredibly affecting. Kate Hudson also shines; it is refreshing to see her tackle a serious drama, a far cry from her usual rom-com fare. Elsewhere, both Elias Koteas and Bill Pullman are memorable.

In the last third of the film, the narrative swings from realism to the realm of disbelief. It is unclear how much of what is depicted is actual event, or whether most of what is shown is really a figment of Ford’s imagination. Up until this point, the film offers a thought-provoking examination of an unstable mind. This is somewhat disrupted by the last section of the film, which slides into Lynchian territory, without the panache of the acclaimed director.

Overall, The Killer Inside Me is an interesting yet flawed film, with its strongest achievement being an exceptional performances from Casey Affleck. 

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Film Review: The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans

27/05/2010

Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant is a peculiar film, but one well worth a watch. Its strength is in the fact that it does not follow more traditional approaches to filmmaking, the result of which is a compelling film.

Lieutenant Terence McDonagh is charged with investigating the murder of a Senegalese family in post-Katrina New Orleans. His drug and gambling addictions, however, interfere with solving the crime…

What begins as a noir drama becomes increasingly surreal in a style often associated with David Lynch. As McDonagh descends further into criminality, the story takes several turns and it is hard to predict how the film will conclude. With so many highly predictable films released of late, this makes a refreshing change.

Overall, Nicolas Cage gives a good performance as McDonagh, although at times it seems that he is trying so hard to give a first-rate performance that it comes across as forced. The supporting cast performs well, with Xzibit and Jennifer Coolidge in particular giving believable performances. Eva Mendes is fine as love interest Frankie, although the casting of such a beautiful actress in this role is a tad unconvincing.

The cinematography and production design work well to create visuals that match the seedy nature of the narrative. The soundtrack is sometimes inspired, adding to the uncanny sequences.

By not following the rules, Herzog has created a film that throws up unexpected incidents and strange but amusing scenes in what could have been a straightforward crime thriller. The Bad Lieutenant is an intriguing film, offering a modicum of the unforeseen in a sea of predictability.