*. I’m not sure what the point was. I’d read Mara Leveritt’s book of the same name on the West Memphis Three, and I’d seen the documentary trilogy of Paradise Lost films that Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky made on the case and its fallout, as well as the 2012 Amy Berg documentary West of Memphis. It’s a hell of a story, but did it need to be made into a dramatic film?
*. It’s not like there was anything new to say. We still don’t know who was the responsible for the murder of the three boys. Much suspicion has been directed at Terry Hobbs, but the film can’t do anything more than continue to give him the side eye. Even Pamela Hobbs (Reese Witherspoon) is shown as having had her doubts about him all along.
*. I can see the attraction it may have held for Atom Egoyan. He’s been fascinated by these stories of murky guilt and the loss of innocence for a while. But his signature restraint seems an ill fit here.
*. In particular, I don’t know what it is with Egoyan and actors. Does he want them to play so stiff? The script is heavy enough with solemn and overly earnest dialogue. It’s like the cast only have a chance to appear human or natural when they’re not speaking, leaving Witherspoon to take over a couple of scenes just with her eyes. The effect is to bleed the film of almost any sense of tension or suspense, outrage or concern.
*. There’s not much else to say here. Colin Firth is miscast and never seems that comfortable in his role. The action moves at a sedate pace, but there’s so much information to get through that the larger story remains unclear in places even to those familiar with it. And finally we’re left unsure of where the film’s focus is ulimately being directed. When I asked what the point of this film was I didn’t just mean that it’s a story that’s already been told. I mean why tell this story in this way? Egoyan must have seemed an obvious choice, but at the end of the day I really don’t think he was the right guy for the job.