Hollywood has a knack for translating current hot topic headlines to movies in record time, but occasionally they look to tell a story from the past that may not be as well known. Writer director Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot doesn’t quite fit that bill. The true story of a 1993 triple homicide in West Memphis, which saw the (twenty year old spoiler alert) wrongful conviction of three teens, has already been explored countless times, most famously through the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries, as well as fourth doccie from none other than Peter Jackson
So what then can Devil’s Knot bring to the table to make this new take stand out? How about one seriously star studded cast including the usually clean cut, British staple Colin Firth as an unshaven, Southern fried private eye.
Atom Egoyan dramatizes the fallout from the notorious 1993 West Memphis murders, focusing on the grieving mother (Reese Witherspoon) of one of the murdered boys as she grows increasingly troubled by the lynch-mob fever that grips the town.
When three young boys were brutally murdered in the small community of West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, their deaths led to shock and outrage in this tightly knit religious town. It wasn’t long before three teenagers were arrested, tried, and sentenced — two of them to life imprisonment and one to death — despite the fact that they all claimed innocence. This story of wrongful conviction roiled the American justice system, brought a number of prominent movie stars and rock musicians to the defence of the three young men, and resulted in a trilogy of documentaries, Paradise Lost, that did much to keep the case in the public eye.
The film made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival lately, and reviews appear to be a bit mixed. Some reviewers claim that the sprawling, twisting, sometimes unbelievable tale of what actually transpired is just too much content to cover in 2 hours (hence why it needed a 3-part, 6 hour long documentary the first time), while others find that Egoyan does a great job of succinctly bringing this sordid tale to people who may never have experienced it previously. Guess, we’ll have to just wait to see who’s right.
Devil’s Knot stars Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Dane DeHaan, Mireille Enos, Bruce Greenwood, Elias Koteas, Stephen Moyer and Amy Ryan, and currently does not have a release date yet.
Last Updated: November 20, 2013