05 June 2010

Not So Much with The Killer Inside Me, Thanks

This afternoon I betook myself to the cinema to see "The Killer Inside Me." Don't ask why I went - there are some films I just want to see, for no clear reason: the last one was "Watchmen." I also like a good psychopath film. So off I went to the mid-afternoon sow (I also very much like going to the pictures during the day).

Weeeell...I'm not sure what to make of "The Killer Inside Me." Casey Affleck was very good, but that didn't surprise me. Jessica Alba was not very good, and that did surprise me, because I had a shadowy memory that one critic had said she was very good. But the performances were not the problem: the problem was sort of the film itself.

The protagonist is a medium-town junior sheriff who is a secret sadist: he likes to spank women (and I don't mean saucy spanking; I mean hard), and, it's implied, also to slap them around and burn them. At the beginning of the film he enters into a consensual sado-masochistic relationship with a prostitute, and later on it's revealed that he also has a consensual sado-masochistic relationship with his fiancée. He (believes he) kills the prostitute as part of a not-particularly-interesting plot he cooks up, and he later kills his fiancée for no particular reason that I could discern - or perhaps for the also not-particularly-interesting reason that he could then blame it on someone who was blackmailing him.

There is a lot of violence against women in this film. But with the exception of the quite striking punch with which the protagonist fells his fiancée (the punch seems to kill her, but she takes a long time to die), all of it is consensual, or at least submitted to without complaint. There are also several scenes that suggest that he was encouraged into sadism by his childhood house help, and that his father liked it, too. For these reasons, it was very difficult for me to see what I was to take from the film. At first I thought it might be that the line between normality and psychopathy is very thin, but given that the protagonist was portrayed as so unemotional, that seemed very unlikely (he wasn't very close to normal). Was I supposed to gather from it (and via it from the book it was based on) that all women are masochists, or that all women like to be abused? That sadists are made, not born? Or that they're born, not made? I just didn't know.

The other difficulty I had was that, although it was obviously meant to be a film noir, it just wasn't very noir. Perhaps film noir can't exist on colour film (I thought while watching the film); there seems to be something about colour that makes everything too fresh, too not-seedy. Or perhaps it simply wasn't a very noir film. For all its protagonist's double life, and the swift violence, and th beautiful dame and the canny police hunt, it wasn't particularly scary, or atmospheric, or, frankly, involving.

So in the end what I took from "The Killer Inside Me" is that Elias Koteas, who had a small role and who was the only person in the whole film who looked human, and weary, and weathered enough to be noir, is an excellent actor. But I already knew that, because I saw him as Gary Gilmore years ago, and years before that as something else, and in both cases he was terrific.

You may be wondering about my job interview. Well, it went...okay. And the town where the job would be is just delightful: I liked it very much. So at this point I'd say I hope I get it, but I don't think I will. It's not that I think I won't; it's just that the interview didn't go so well that I feel certain, or certain to any degree. Still, I have my fingers crossed. REALLY crossed.

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