Shape-shifting British director Michael Winterbottom—whose filmography ranges from rock comedy (24 Hour Party People) to harsh social drama (In This World) to literary postmodernism (Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story) to sexual rhapsody (9 Songs)—takes on the uniquely searching and sinister pulp fiction of Jim Thompson. This adaptation of Thompson’s 1952 novel about a cunning, psychotic sheriff’s deputy in a small Texas town locates the killer inside him and immerses us in the cold calculation and horrible logic that pull him from one murder to the next. In the end, his deadliest weapon turns out to be other people’s trust, something with grimmer philosophical implications than all his acts of violence combined. With Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Ned Beatty, and Simon Baker.
By J.R. Jones