In the late 1940s, a Texas deputy sheriff is slowly unmasked as a psychotic killer.
Controversy and anger swarmed this film as it opened in the Sundance Film Festival, leading to many people walking out of the theater. Given the material, as this is based on the Jim Thompson novel of the same name, the fact that people walked out makes a lot of sense. The film is brutally violent in an unrelentingly realistic fashion. While the film at no point glorifies violence at all, it is a very difficult film to watch. The most controversial scene involves Affleck’s character, Lou Ford, brutally beating a woman to death. The scene is well done and truly unforgettable as it displays Ford’s state of mind perfectly.
For those who have read the novel, the film follows it very carefully…whether you like it or not. Those involved in the making of this film truly did a remarkable job adapting this film. The cinematography by Marcel Zyskind is beautiful and is easily his best work to date. Casey Affleck owns the film here as Lou Ford, and has gone seemingly unrecognized for his turn here, which is a crime. Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba turn in their best work to date, creating well-rounded and realistic understanding characters, even with their limited screen time. Two consistently reliable actors, Elias Koteas and Tom Bower, give memorable performances further proving the fact of how underrated they are.
I don’t want to go that much into detail about the plot for those of you who have not seen the film or read the novel. In the end, it is an extremely well-made and well-acted film that deserves attention. Those who enjoy films about the psychological aspects of serial killers should enjoy this film as long as they have the stomach for it. Personally, there were a couple of scenes that nearly made me sick to my stomach, but that’s part of its charm. This film is a true testament to how horrifying violence is. Keeping it realistic and gut-wrenching (literally), none of the violence is glamourized or justified in this film. I hope people give this a chance, but I recommend it with warning.
Rating: R for disturbing brutal violence, aberrant sexual content and some graphic nudity
Runtime: 109 minutes