Right off, I can’t decide if I want to give the film three or four stars. I read the book a few months before I saw the movie and the book shocked me too. But not like this. The book’s brutality (to me) was the simplicity of describing what was going on – Thompson would just make a statement, there was no Stephen King elaborations. But the movie lingers on those moments, lingers on the shots where Joyce is beaten, where Amy is beaten.
The film is decently acted, the production teams did very well with the exception of the sound department. The background music was louder than the dialogue, which became very problematic because Casey Affleck was very soft-spoken in this role.
It’s a very faithful adaptation, almost too faithful. It’s as if the writers didn’t challenge themselves in anyway in adapting the novel, more like they went page by page while writing it as so not to leave anything out. It even opens the exact same way, just with him already in the office and being asked to go chase the hooker out of town.
One thing that is misunderstood, I think, about the relationship between Joyce and Lou is that it’s an S&M, Dom/sub mix relationship. The sex is exciting for both of them that way, though they are shown making love as well. They’re characters that are fit for each other. It’s just Lou’s mental illness – and I’ve seen “diagnoses” from bipolar to schizophrenic – and his thirst for revenge for his brother’s murder overtake that bit of love that he does feel for Joyce.
The film, and the book, are an interesting character study of a man who’s dark desires have been re-awoken by a strong, feisty woman and his want of revenge.
This movie is NOT for the faint-hearted as far as violence, portrayed realistically, is shown. It is meant to disturb you, to not sit well, to make you think. No, there’s no mystery. There’s not supposed to be, it’s not that type of story. It’s something much bleaker.