Sadism and masochism beneath a veneer of revenge. Lou Ford is a mild-mannered sheriff's deputy in a Texas oil town in the mid 1950's. His boss sends him to roust a prostitute living in a rural house. She slaps him; he hits her, then, after daily sex for the next few weeks, he decides it's love. She's devoted to him and becomes his pawn in a revenge plot she thinks is to shakedown the son of Chester Conway, the town's wealthy king of construction. Lou has a different plan, and bodies pile up as murder leads to murder. The district attorney suspects Lou, and Conway may have an inkling, but Lou stays cool. Is love, or at least peace, in the cards?Written by
Although possible in theory, it would be very unlikely that a small town Oklahoma sheriff in the 1940s would own an Italian Moka espresso machine, which had only just been invented in the late 30s and had real commercial success in the 1950s. See more »
Sheriff Bob Maples:
Name of Joyce Lakeland. Lives about four or five miles out on Derrick Road past the old Branch place.
Oh, I know the old Branch place. She a hustling lady, Bob?
Sheriff Bob Maples:
Well, I guess so, but she's - she's been pretty decent about it.
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Greetings again from the darkness. The film is based upon the work of crime novelist Jim Thompson, who is quite famous as a writer and whose works have often been translated to film. This time oft-creepy director Michael Winterbottom is in charge and comes pretty close to creating a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the bits that fall short, very nearly ruin the film.
Psychological crime thrillers can be the most fascinating genre (see Inception), but only when the lead psycho is relatable in some sense and the story is complete. Here, Casey Affleck gives an outstanding performance as the dude you don't want your daughter to date. There is a deep darkness hidden behind his aw-shucks facade of innocence and cutesy west Texas drawl.
The violence is expected, yet still shocking, when it first rears its head on poor Jessica Alba. We feel the first punch. What happens in this first encounter catches us off-guard and leaves us wanting to know more background on Affleck's character. Instead, we are really only spectators in his plan of violence that seems to have no real goal. Think Natural Born Killers. Heck, even Ted Bundy had a real plan!
The creepiness factor is upped a bit since most everyone associated with the crimes seems to suspect Affleck's character, but no one knows what to do or how to stop him. Elias Koteas and Simon Baker (miscast) are two who try. Personally I wanted more of the Koteas character as well as Ned Beatty, who plays a powerful developer against whom Affleck holds a grudge.
Bill Pullman is tossed in near the end to help wrap things up, but mostly the ending is as unsatisfying as the rest of the story. It is uncomfortable to watch Affleck's character, so devoid of morals and empty of soul, but it feels wasted on a small town deputy sheriff with no vision. Maybe that's not such a bad thing ... but it makes for a much weaker film.
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