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The Killer Inside Me

By all appearances, The Killer Inside Me's setting of Central City, Texas, is the epitome of the cinematic small town, complete with slow-drawl country music tunes, a businessman who practically owns the town, and a doe-eyed lady who most of the townsfolk love, but whose heart belongs to the deputy sheriff. Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), though, is no ordinary deputy sheriff, as we learn when he is ordered to evict a local prostitute, Joyce Lakeland (the always gorgeous Jessica Alba), because she has taken up with the son of town boss Chester Conway (Ned Beatty). Unfortunately for Conway, this is Jessica Alba we're talking about! After a rather interesting exchange with Joyce, Ford takes up with her himself, and hatches a plan for them to skip town together. When Ford's fiancé, Amy Stanton (a fetching Kate Hudson), suspects an affair between the two, trouble ensues, and a maelstrom of murder, mischief, and mayhem soon envelops Central City.

Based on the novel by Jim Thompson, who also wrote The Grifters and The Getaway as well as screenplays for Stanley Kubrick's films The Killing and Paths of Glory, The Killer Inside Me is one of the better films of its ilk, wherein the "hero" is actually a disturbed — and disturbing — individual. Directed by Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart) and featuring a supporting cast of actors that could each carry their own film (and indeed some have), including Bill Pullman, Simon Baker, and Elias ''I'm not Christopher Meloni and he is not me'' Koteas, this movie should be penciled into everyone's must-see list.

To answer the main question on the minds of the panting fanboys: Yes, both of the film's buxom beauties, Alba and Hudson, show heaping gobs of skin. Unfortunately, this is film noir, a genre in which attractive female characters seldom survive to see the final credits roll.

With that in mind, a word of warning: The Killer Inside Me does get a bit gratuitous with its violence, and while it's not Bad Lieutenant- or David Lynch-level gratuitous, it's still out-there, blunt-trauma-to-the-head violent. Winterbottom makes the dangerous choice of rarely cutting away from the looks on the faces of those involved in these scenes, and we as viewers become willing accomplices in Ford's actions. In the film's defense, the violence is actually used for character development, and there are enough moments of subtle, bleak, black humor to counterbalance it. But if you're the squeamish type, you might wish to stay home.

Long out of the shadow of his more famous brother, Casey Affleck comes out of his own shadow in The Killer Inside Me, creating a character as charismatically menacing as a villainous protagonist could be; an Anton Chigurh you could bring home to meet your family. With no shred of his "Baastaahn" accent apparent, Affleck speaks in a southern drawl that sounds like he's about to crack at any instant; because usually, he is. It's the kind of role that will be talked about for years (if this film gets the proper promotion, that is) and in my opinion will make him a very early candidate for Best Actor. rated this film 3 1/2 stars.