Friday, May 21, 2010

Sociopaths in film

Adapted from the novel of the same name, this review of the film:
While there exists a long and rich cinematic fascination with murderous psychotics, first person accounts are less common, and generally less agreeable to audiences (indeed, the seminal Peeping Tom effectively demolished Michael Powell’s career). After all, if the sociopath is freakishly and essentially devoid of sympathy and empathy, how are we to identify with them? The answer, in this case, is to disregard the question entirely: identification is irrelevant and impossible — we must simply find the character charismatic and watchable. This places a tremendous burden on Affleck’s shoulders, and he ably meets it — his performance is brilliant, affirming once again that he is one of the most underrated American screen actors of our time. Effortlessly underplaying a role that would tempt most actors to over-act, he modulates his expressions and physical demeanor to match, chillingly, the accounts of certain real-life sociopaths we know from the news: charming, and blandly — almost vacantly — handsome.

Told from the express point of view of a psychotic, The Killer Inside Me, with its remorseless displays of violence, is necessarily divisive. Lack of character development is a valid complaint, and indeed, flashbacks to Ford’s childhood psychosexual experiences are likely red herrings, seemingly providing no meaningful answers. Yet this is exactly what the subject matter calls for: lacking ordinary humanity, the protagonist has no “character,” as we know it. There is no explaining, no understanding. Thus, that which may well disgust certain viewers is exactly what makes The Killer Inside Me a terrifying yet ultimately compelling film.


  1. I think there needs to be more movies such as Mr. Brooks that show that you don't have to be a psychotic sociopath/psychopath/evilbadmanwhokillseveryone to be a murderer. (Mr. Brooks is a great film, by the way.)

    I do think that it is usually entertaining to see sociopath murderers, but I think there is a need for more films that incorporate murderers who are "normal" people. (Normal as in: non sociopathic.)

    Of course, I'd say a sociopathic murderer is a lot easier to portray in a socially accepted way in comparison to a non-sociopathic murderer.

  2. any thoughts on john cusacks role in "War, Inc.".... or is he just one of those "sociopaths with a heart" that we love to love?

  3. What I would love to see is a sociopath in a non-serial killer role. As much as I love them it gets tiring to see the same portrayal over and over again. Anyone know any good films along those lines?

  4. alex, i read your question last night and thought i must know of a movie, then it came to mind... the character played by mario van peebles in a movie called "baadasssss!" i really think his character is a decide.. plus it's a great film. (and no one dies in the movie)

  5. I'm not sure if the characters in these are particularly "sociopaths" but they certainly exhibit some characteristics.

    Tracy Flick- Election
    Kimberly- Pretty Persuasion
    Randle McMurphy- One Flew over a Cuckoo's Nest

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