Based on the actual events of the West Memphis Three, where three young boys were savagely murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. Spurred on by the demand from a grieving town, the local police act quickly to bring three "devil-worshipping" teenagers to trial. With their lives hanging in the balance, investigator Ron Lax is trying to find the truth between the town's need for justice and the guilt of the accused.Written by
Boy Scout neckerchiefs come in many shades. However, Cub Scouts use yellow exclusively. You must be eleven-years-old to be a Boy Scout. The boy was eight-years-old. See more »
West Memphis police cars in the movie are correct in terms of make, model and markings. But the lightbars used are red & blue. West Memphis patrol cars have always featured all-blue warning lights. See more »
Well, that's all right, mama / That's all right for you / That's all right, mama, just any way you do.
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Flawed but decent account of a comparatively recent case
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
In 1993, three young boys were found murdered in the river of a southern town in America. The finger of suspicion fell on several heavy metal obsessed teenagers, who were suspected of being involved in devil worship. On learning that the death penalty was being considered, attorney Ron Lax (Colin Firth) springs in to action, assembling a legal team to represent the boys in court and overcome the hysteria of the town. While desperate for closure and keeping a narrow grip on her sanity, Pam (Reese Witherspoon), one of the bereaved mothers, is also unable to clear herself of doubt over the boys guilt.
While not what could be called a fact is stranger than fiction piece of work, Devil's Knot also has a more engaging quality somehow on the grounds that it's based on a true story, serving as it does as an examination of the legal system, and of people's small mindedness and tendency towards knee jerk reactions in the face of acts of over- whelming evil. In as unflinching a style as one can expect from modern films, it dramatizes the true horror and subsequent raw emotions of a small town on the edge. It's helped no end by reliably stellar performances from the lead stars and supporting cast, and it's all pretty on the level, but it's also sadly not the sum of it's parts.
As well as staging it all pretty well, director Atom Egoyan also strives to keep the authenticity to a high standard, with Firth delivering a fine American accent, at the top of every other little minor detail. Somehow, though, he manages to muddle the pace up, delivering a film that while telling a compelling story, is detailed in a slightly meandering, plodding fashion that stops it being the sum of it's parts. The parts this effects most is the conclusion, delivering a pay off that could have been electrifying, but as a result is merely perfunctory.
Still, it's a riveting, interesting real life thriller, boosted no ends from great turns by two reliable lead performers. ***
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