Monday, 27 November 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2010: Casey Affleck in The Killer Inside Me

Casey Affleck did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford in The Killer Inside Me.

The Killer Inside Me at a source material level is a pitch black noir that would require a deft hand to successfully adapt, well no such hand is to be found here.

The film follows a corrupt lawman from his perspective, solely from that perspective and unlike say a Bad Lieutenant of some kind this lawman is wholly evil. The film falters in part because much of it feels like an exercise in replicating the hard boiled noir films of the 40's and 50's like a Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly or The Postman Always Rings Twice. The film is an exercise in that however it does not succeed in even replicating the weakest of those three films in part because the exercise itself feels obvious but also in the way it deals with the characters. The supporting characters, partially in writing often in performance, feel like caricatures we are wholly detached from leaving the only successful character and performance being the one there is suppose to be a level of detachment from to begin with. That is obviously Casey Affleck in the lead role as Lou Ford our villainous protagonist. The majority of Affleck's notable roles in his acting career are at some level anti-social. This is a fascinating performance in Affleck's work since this is once again anti-social however the way he reveals it is very peculiar here, yet reveals itself in exactly the nature of Lou Ford.

Affleck's work is interesting though in that it isn't about facades exactly, but rather the meaning he attaches to Lou Ford's behavior that we know however no one else knows until it is too late. When we open the film we see Lou Ford as he sent out to evict known prostitute Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), where we see Lou Ford as this unassuming if not slightly charming deputy. Affleck is not a naturally overtly charming performer however what he does here is quite fascinating in the sort of elfish charm he does find in that mischievous smile of his as he lets himself in. Affleck doesn't actually portray this hint of charm as a facade exactly since in that smile there is already exactly what he is, the problem is only Ford knows this. In that smile he charms Joyce long enough yet Affleck in that even brings his intention which isn't to pleasant towards her or even evict her, it is far worse. He goes about instead starting a sadomasochistic relationship with her where he routinely physically abuses her in perverse sex acts. Affleck doesn't reveal some evil side rather knowing what he intends to do grants a very different reaction from Affleck's slight grin given its meaning.

Affleck's performance here is apart from the rest of the film both in terms of quality but also in the way he portrays the psychosis of Deputy Ford. Ford is merely a man who does things throughout the film seemingly with little sense, even with a backstory of encouraging it but not creating it. Ford is mentally ill from the start and that is not going to change. What Affleck portrays throughout the film is merely such a man interacting with his surroundings, which unfortunately results in many deaths, and general destruction. Affleck's depicts Ford without even a hint of guilt portraying this purity of the madness of a man that is truly chilling because of the level of comfort Affleck depicts in this. In his actions of inflicting pain or killing Affleck portrays some to be sure in Ford as he does this, but also a hollowness within the ease in which he does it. There are no lingering thoughts that Affleck portrays rather a man completely comfortable in himself at every point throughout the film no matter what danger he may be putting himself in or how close he might be to getting caught for his many horrible actions throughout the story.

Ford's actions don't make a lot of sense throughout as he seems to almost actively work to getting himself caught by the end of the film however it is given any sense through Affleck's portrayal of his particular sort of craziness. Affleck always makes Ford the man he as this deranged pleasure seeker. He isn't even wholly without emotion as Ford speaks to some love he holds for Joyce, and although Affleck shows this to be true he also shows that this love means for him stabbing her to death. Affleck's performance here is terrific as he is most disturbing in so honestly realizing the man's sinister nature at every point no matter how illogical, since Affleck shows that it is wholly logical to Ford. In those eyes there is the man who holds such pleasure from just inflicting harm to others with that carefree genuine attitude that Affleck finds in this that makes it so off-putting. Affleck's work here on its own is compelling but it truly stands alone. He remains intriguing even as the film never really becomes as such. Affleck's performance is what would be needed for any adaptation of The Killer Inside Me, as he brings to life the man in eerie detail, even if the film itself fails to capitalize on the strength of its lead.


Henry W said...

Sounds like Affleck was close to a five Louis, from the feel of this review. Was he?

Deiner said...

Louis: your thoughts and ratings on the rest of the cast?

Calvin Law said...

Louis: what did you make of the musical choices in Three Billboards? I thought Burwell's score was excellent as usual, but whereas In Bruges was mostly that haunting theme and Ralag Road and Seven Psychopaths a bunch of memorable little cues, this one utilized some existing songs brilliantly, particularly in two scenes I'm sure you'll be discussing very soon.

Louis Morgan said...


Yes, a better film could have probably allowed him to achieve an even greater performance.


Alba & Hudson 1.5/2(Severely lacking when they kind of make you indifferent to certain scenes when you definitely should not be. Their performances though are razor thin offering nothing to combat what Affleck is doing in providing any humanity to their roles. Their work is severely underwhelming as they remain as caricatures offering no tragedy to what happens to them nor complexity in their chemistry with Affleck.)

Beatty/Koteas/Pullman - 2.5(They are all okayish in just being the caricatures that are written for them. They do try but there just isn't enough there.)

Maher - 2(I'm guessing he's friends with the Afflecks, because I'm wholly confused every time I see this guy with his horrible overacting.)


Loved em, just another example of McDonagh's work as a director which is underrated. Thought he used Burwell's beautifully, and I agree those two song choices help contribute to two of my favorites scenes from this year as a whole.

Bryan L. said...

Henry W.: Bale would be pretty good as Travis Bickle in a 2000s version.
I do see Affleck as Terry, but I'd go with Joaquin Phoenix. Michelle Williams would indeed be my choice for Edie.