This film was so empty and unpleasant I spent some time trying to figure out what it was supposed to be about. It reminded me of those notices on NetFlix that tell you what movies you might like based on what you’ve liked already. “If you liked watching “Macbeth,” you might enjoy “Friday the 13th.” This movie seems to be trying to tell us, “If you like smacking girls on the backside, you might enjoy BEATING THEM TO FREAKING DEATH!!!!!”
Anyway, that’s basically the MO of Texas Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) who likes to spank his women, then kill them–and, of course, they seem to enjoy every moment of it. Don’t try this at home. It’s based on the famous noir novel by Jim Thompson - I read it a long time ago and didn’t like it much but can’t remember it – and there was another film version of it back in the seventies I never saw.
This one? Listen, as my readers know, I have nothing against dark stories, nothing against depicting evil, nothing against exploring sexual perversion… but, like, why??? I mean, a work of art is supposed to reach the audience, move them, give them some insight into the human condition. It’s not enough to be “disturbing.” I could smash a baby on a rock and it would be disturbing, but it wouldn’t be art. So, with this film, after watching a woman graphically punched to death–and another graphically kicked to death–I just found myself beginning to wonder what was on the Lifetime channel. Because it was ugly, sure, but pointless. No social context, no psychological insight, no emotion, no interesting relationships. Just a sort of self-satisfied announcement that sadism and masochism are uncomfortable facets of human nature. Really, next time send me the news in a letter.
But there was some good stuff. Casey Affleck–great young actor. Watch his Jesse James movie if you want to see him kick butt in a more figurative way. Jessica Alba–sexy and appealing. Kate Hudson–really good performance. Lots of good cameos–Bill Pullman, Ned Beatty, Simon Baker. But basically, I watched this so you don’t have to–so don’t.