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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Movie Review: Devil's Knot

In 1993, three young boys went missing from West Memphis, Arkansas. Their bodies were found the next day in a creek and three troubled, teenage boys were accused and convicted of their murders. This movie tells the story of those tragic murders and the subsequent farce of a case that convicted three innocent teens of the crime. I rented it because I'd heard of the case and was interested in learning more.

**I outlined the details of this case in a crime tidbit post on Monday. To read that, click HERE.**

Synopsis: West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993 was a small town of bible belt folk. When three young boys don't make it home one night, the community sets out to look for them. 

Acting/Characters: Reese Witherspoon plays the mother of one of the boys, Stevie Branch, who lives through the misery of the twisted case. As always, she is very convincing in her role. Not the kind of woman who simply wants justice for her child, but one who genuinely wants to know what happened, she plays a discerning woman, swept up by the tide of a case that quickly becomes much bigger than her or her family.

Colin Firth--who I've loved since his days of playing Mr. Darcy--plays a P.I. who attaches himself to the defense, less because he believes the boys to be innocent, and more because he hates the idea of the teens being convicted of a capital crime. It's the digging of him and his team that brings most of the problems with the case to light. Though they ultimately can't stop the conviction, they keep digging to try and churn the truth to the surface.

Plenty of other talented actors also make an appearance. Most aren't A-listers, but they were part of the appeal of the film for me. Even the small parts were often played by actors I know and respect, including Elias Koteas, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand, Steven Moyer, Alessandro Nivola, and more.

I really liked this film. You have to watch closely and note names of characters so you know who they're talking about in the courtroom, but I think they did a good job of showing what happened, how many people were involved, and how so many obvious blunders could be swept under the rug and untruths so easily believed. 

I'll warn that the beginning is hard to watch. While not terribly explicit, you do see them pull the nude bodies of the boys out of the water, and your heart will definitely hurt. If you know the details of the case, the final convictions aren't shocking, but the afterward in which they describe different things that came to light in subsequent years will make you gasp. It becomes fairly obvious to the discerning viewer what actually happened, but justice was not and still has not been served here, which makes it quite tragic all around.

The film is dedicated to the memory of the three boys who died that night, which I thought was touching. 

Overall, if you like true crime or have any interest in this case, you'll like Devil's Knot. I thought it was well put together and did a good job showing the ins and outs of what happened. It's the kind of thing that happens very little any more, thanks to the technology of forensic science, but must still be guarded against. 

Has anyone else seen this film? What did you think of it?

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