110 minutes| U.S.A.-U.K.-France| 2009| Colour| Anamorphic| Dolby Digital Stereo| 35mm

The twisted world of legendary pulp author Jim Thompson makes it to the screen intact in British director Michael Winterbottom’s startling adaptation of the 1952 novel Stanley Kubrick (no less!) dubbed ‘probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally-warped mind I have
ever encountered’.

While even Sam Peckinpah toned down Thompson’s dark vision in the past, this atmospheric 1950s set encounter with a seemingly meek Southern sheriff, who’s overwhelmed by secret urgings beyond the pale of morality, delivers film noir in the truest sense of the term. Volatile and quite terrifyingly driven, Casey Affleck’s central performance never tries to soften a character whose aberrant ways prove compelling, even when we can hardly watch. The markers of the genre are all there, including Jessica Alba’s sultry vixen, and a suspense plot with sundry kinks along the way, but Winterbottom’s risk-taking achievement is to play them straight, instead of lapsing into ironic affectation. Notes by Trevor Johnston

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