Viewed – 10 December 2010 Blu-ray
The only thing I had heard about this movie during it’s initial, limited theatrical run was that it was based on a very old pulp novel by Jim Thompson and features scenes of disturbing violence. As someone who has a liking for controversial movies, this was instantly on my must see list. Casey Affleck plays small town deputy Sheriff Lou Ford, a quietly spoken, unassuming good-guy hiding a dark secret. You see he likes to help people out of their problems, such as a local tycoon who wants his son’s prostitute mistress run out of town – yet finds himself resorting to brutal murder, leading to more dead bodies as he attempts to cover his tracks.
This was a strange film as Lou seemed hopelessly inept and unable to solve his problems without killing, so it’s not too long until the local D.A. is on his tail and piecing the clues together. Casey Affleck is disturbing in the lead role and very convincing as someone with a terrible urge under a squeeky clean outer appearance, and supporting him is a sexy, twisted Jessica Alba and a feisty if bland Kate Hudson, as well as a memorable appearance from Bill Pullman. The violence, although not gory, sticks in your head and is jolting and difficult to watch, not helped by the fact that Lou’s motives are unclear, making me wonder why he did the things he did. Maybe he was just a psycho.
Michael Winterbottom’s film is certainly stylish, with the Texas location beautifully showcased, and the moody, jazz soundtrack perfectly compliments proceedings. Yet I felt the acting was a little subdued and the story vague at best, resulting in frustration and confusion. Also at times the film felt like it wanted to be a dark satire, then would become a thriller – leading to a very schitsofrenic experience in all.
Verdict: 2.5 /5