The Killer Inside Me, starring Jessica Alba, caused a lot of controversy when it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Not only were audience members taken aback by what many felt was an overly graphic scene in which Alba is beaten to a literal pulp, but the actress herself reportedly walked out of the screening early. Her representative later confirmed to the press that Alba only left because she had to catch a flight and not because she didn't like the movie, but the perceived damage had been done.
The Killer Inside Me screened again at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, and though the scenes in which Casey Affleck's sociopathic character, Lou Ford, beats on both his lover (Alba) and his fianceé (Kate Hudson) are indeed difficult to watch, the film itself was not as controversial as expected. In fact, at certain points, the story felt downright preposterous—absurd even—not a good look when considering that director Michael Winterbottom was trying to make a dark, edgy film noir based on the brilliant 1952 novel by Jim Thompson.
Surprisingly enough, the acting in the film was relatively strong in spite of the fact that Winterbottom never quite balances the tone. Affleck plays a compelling character whose innermost thoughts betray the truth behind his genteel southern demeanor, although he hides behind a wink and a smile a little too often. Alba also delivers a poised performance as a local hooker with ulterior motives. It is obvious that Winterbottom was taken by the actresses stunning beauty as he lets the camera linger on her and inserts one too many gratuitous sex scenes between her and Affleck.
Unfortunately, neither Affleck's acting, Alba's beauty, nor the great cinematography is enough to save this film. The Killer Inside Me never gathers momentum, and the borderline silly, fiery finale seals the deal.