Film Reviews

Art & Lit Screen

Somewhat sick small-town psycho story

The Killer Inside Me

109 mins

Cert: 18

Dir: Michael Winterbottom

Review: 3/5

“The trouble with growing up in a small town,” drawls Casey Affleck’s sociopathic lawman Lou Ford, “is everybody thinks they know who you are.” The Killer Inside Me, released so soon after Derrick Bird’s horrific murder spree, raises once again the question of perceived identity, as Affleck’s character satisfies his sadomasochistic whims in 1950s Texas.

Beautifully scripted and brilliantly acted though it may be, The Killer Inside Me will remain infamous for two horrendously graphic scenes in which women are relentlessly beaten to a bloody pulp. Harrowing viewing doesn’t quite cut it and one victim’s declaration of love after the beating has rightfully given rise to accusations of gross ignorance and misogyny.

Director Michael Winterbottom has responded that he wished to capture not only a man’s wasteful destruction of love but also the reality that beating people to death is a repulsive, gruesome affair. Indeed, to its credit, it seems at times that the film seeks to deconstruct elements of the noir genre, with Ford’s penchant for violent sex and savage violence testing the modern audience’s own inoculation to such scenes.

Whatever purpose the brutality may serve in capturing the zeitgeist, the scenes are so convincing that the violence becomes more powerful than the film itself. It dominates and distracts, albeit to the benefit of the increasingly unbelievable plot, and, ultimately, just as Lou Ford loses control in front of the camera, so too perhaps does Winterbottom behind it. Provocative, unsettling, flawed. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

–Thomas Leece

Blooming good show from Brody and co

The Brothers Bloom

114 mins

Cert: 12A

Dir: Rian Johnson

Review: 3.5/5

Finally getting a UK release two years after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, Rian Johnson’s oddball comedy follows a pair of skilled conmen brothers, one of whom starts to fall for their latest target, a pretty and eccentric heiress.

Brody is wonderful as the conflicted grifter, although his emotional intensity can be hard for the viewer to shake off when the movie tries to segue from drama back into comedy. Mark Ruffalo is as good he can be with the rather flat role of the ‘cocky brother’, whilst Rinko Kikuchi gets the biggest laughs without even opening her mouth as their silent accomplice Bang Bang. Rachel Weisz appears at first to struggle with a script which is never too sure if she’s supposed to be a wacky heiress or a profound love interest, but she grows in strength as the film progresses.

It’s very easy to underestimate the audience’s intelligence when it comes to a twist ending, expecting them to ooh and ahh in awe at a final reveal which isn’t half as smart as it thinks it is. Fortunately, Johnson appears to recognise this and instead of pinning his hopes on one twist, throws in half a dozen in quick succession until the viewer is forced to throw up their hands in surrender. It’s a risky strategy but here it works beautifully, making for a genuinely gripping ending.

The Brothers Bloom brims over with creative energy and ideas, some charming and others falling flat – not that it matters greatly given that the film literally flings itself from scene to scene without a backward glance. Though the first hour is patchy, as the film decides whether to be a farcical caper or a quirky drama, once it takes a turn for the latter, things start to come together. Well worth a look.

–Rebecca Gillie