Michael Winterbottom's new thriller The Killer Inside Me has generated a fair bit of controversy due to its graphic depiction of violence against women, seeing it accused of misogyny by Charlotte Higgins and distasteful sensationalism by David Cox, while being applauded for its honest potrayal of domestic violence by Hadley Freeman. The film split Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode on their Radio 5 Live show, with Kermode defending its honesty while Mayo rather impressively threw Winterbottom by accusing him of misogyny in a live interview.
It is a problematic film, mainly because it seems to miss the point. While its main subject matter appears to be violence against women, apart from two brutal scenes and a bit of psychopath childhood background stuff the film concentrates on how the central character evades capture. This sort of thriller plotting makes the film work as a viewing experience but has absolutely nothing to do with the violence at its core, and indeed belittles it.
It is difficult to work out whether Winterbottom is trying to say something about violence against women and failing, or filming a straight thriller story with a nod towards it for controversy's sake. That there is some ambiguity should preclude any moralising, but the violence depicted is so appalling and the masochistic attitude of the victims so odd you feel Winterbottom has an obligation to at least provide some reasoning. This isn't forthcoming in either the film or his rather evasive interviews.