The Killer Inside Me — an anti-hero too far?

Classic pulp art — the US first edition

Classic pulp art — the original US paperback

Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of noir titan Jim Thompson‘s irredeemably dark fifth novel of 1952, The Killer Inside Me, has been attracting considerable flak for its brutality and amoral tone. Reportedly, even the film’s co-star, Jessica Alba, didn’t make it to the end of the gala showing at the Sundance Film Festival, so unflinching was the portrayal of a violent scene between her character and the work’s anti-hero, Texan Deputy Sheriff, Lou Ford (Casey Affleck).

All brouhaha aside, judging by the trailer, Winterbottom’s succeeded where such revered but, ultimately, punch-pulling (no pun intended) big screen adaptations of Thompson’s work (The Getaway, The Grifters, a 1970s take on The Killer Inside Me, and several others) have failed, namely in bringing what Stanley Kubrick called “Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered” to cinemas. Winterbottom’s even nailed the production design and music (Western Swing, predominantly).

Thompson is quite possibly only second to the equally stellar (and loopy) Philip K Dick in the number of movies adapted from his books (see Total Recall, Screamers, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report and possibly even Blade Runner) which have failed reflect the author’s genuinely human yet often incredibly bleak worldview…

If you don’t necessarily want all of your heroes to be likable, and prefer your onscreen psychos to be realistic, rather than hammy, Winterbottom’s film looks like a cert. However, fans of Mad Men and the Hollywood-softened take on James Ellroy’s LA Confidential may find Lou Ford an anti-hero too far.

Winterbottom recently talked candidly to web mag The Quietus about The Killer Inside Me.

See you in the queue…


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