Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Bill Pullman, Simon Baker, Ned Beatty, Tom Bower, Elias Koteas
In 1952, the great noir novelist Jim Thompson wrote a bleak, nightmarish first-person character study titled The Killer Inside Me, about Texas sheriff Lou Ford, a publicly respected figure who, unbeknownst to the people around him, harbors an intense bloodlust and repeatedly allows it to get the best of him. A masterful storyteller, Thompson used his writerly gifts to examine what makes a psychopath tick—the conclusions met by the final page aren't exactly heartwarming, but they're definitely fascinating.
Immediately after signing on to direct the film version of The Killer Inside Me, acclaimed English director Michael Winterbottom made himself susceptible to folks prone to flinging the "misogyny" label around. Its tough, uncompromising material, and Winterbottom's decision to keep the book's rawest moments—such as Ford (Casey Affleck) punching a kind-hearted prostitute's (Jessica Alba) face into a bloody pulp—was a brave one.
It was also the byproduct of Winterbottom's immense respect for The Killer Inside Me novel. And sometimes, as the filmmaking Englishman surely realized, art can be horrific. Lou Ford is a bad man with perverted views toward women, established at an early age (his childhood babysitter forced him to hit her so she could get off). But that doesn't mean Winterbottom is a misogynist for depicting Ford's actions on screen. He's just a guy who's intrigued by complex characters.