This film has very mixed reviews, it got a Razzie nomination for Jessica Alba while some spoke of an Oscar nomination for Casey Affleck, which he didn’t get but perhaps did deserve. Most critics seem to say it just misses the mark but in my opinion the film sets out to do one thing, and does it really very well.
The film is about a blank-eyed murderer played by Casey Affleck – his second incredibly strong performance of a cowardly murderer called Ford, maybe he’s getting typecast. If Henry Ford had ever murdered anyone, this is the guy you would want to play him. Although if Harrison Ford ever murders anyone I guess he could just play himself.
The film revolves around him and I think this is what throws a lot of reviews off: he is an utterly inhuman character. There is no way you can pity him or relate to him or even understand him. It’s a nihilistic portrayal of a killer and it does make the film quite confusing when you aren’t quite sure what you are seeing or why you are seeing it: there are no attempts to explain his motivation or why he would act this way, no redeeming qualities but equally no blatant wild-eyed craziness. He seems like a regular guy that is breaking the rules of the universe in some fundamental way and it’s disconcerting. It’s human nature to try and explain things and attach a narrative to them, but here no such attempt is made, we are given evidence of a criminal rather than a story about one. Most of the supporting characters that would usually be anchored to the central character study are just left to flounder on their own because the film doesn’t have any comfortable or familiar roles for them to play.
Michal Winterbottom, the director, made the excellent ‘The Trip’ television series with Steve Coogan, as well as ‘A Cock and Bull Story’ – both worth watching but they have absolutely nothing in common with ‘The Killer Inside Me’ except that they are well crafted, and this film is very well crafted – one of the tricks of the film is that it is visually so peaceful and idyllic that the abnormalities seem more pronounced or even anachronistic, as if the violence shouldn’t exist in this time and place, violence like this feels like a recent invention: there are no films from the 1940s that show violence in this way.
Overall, I recommend it – but it is not easy watching. The violence is actually shockingly realistic and carried out in a really impassive manner by a mystery of a character which makes it all the more disturbing. It’s not a satisfying film in the sense that it doesn’t wrap things up in a way that we are used to in movies – don’t expect explanations and hopefully you won’t come out of it feeling cheated.