Eighty-something minutes into a premiere screening at the Eccles Theater something unusual happened. The climax of Tommy O’Haver’s latest film An American Crime was about to reveal its most disturbing twist.
“LIGHTS!!!! LIGHTS!!!!” People started screaming from the back of the theater.
The audience jumped to it’s feet, someone screamed.
“We need a doctor! Is anyone a doctor!”
People were running around and the movie played on screen but not one person was still watching. The lights went up and the movie abruptly came to a stop.
Today the buzz at the Sundance Film Festival will no doubt revolve around how An American Crime was so disturbing that someone fainted or went into shock (depending on who you talk to). But that’s not the truth. The truth is that the guy was a diabetic who passed out. We have been told that he was fine shortly after the occurrence which had absolutely nothing to do with any of the images shown on screen. It will be spun into a publicity stunt, a Sundance legend told from festival-goer to festival-goer while riding a backed up shuttle busses on Park Ave.
Don’t believe the hype. It’s not true.
An American Crime Movie Review
An American Crime is nothing more than a waste of your time and money. It’s terrifyingly boring, and patently unwatchable. A film adaptation (or interpretation depending on what plot synopsis you read) of “one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim.” When the two daughters of carnival workers are left in the care of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski, things start to go horribly and unbelievably wrong. Using all the information gathered from the 1966 court transcripts, we see the whole thing play out from beginning to end.
Featuring horrendously bad dialogue and pointless slow scene after pointless slow scene, the film fails to establish an entertaining narrative. Playing it safe, the torture sequences happen mostly off screen or in wide shots. The prop cars and sets look like prop cars and movie sets. Catherine Keener’s performance is over-the-top and unbelievable. The film’s only saving grace is star Ellen Page (who was at Sundance two years ago in Hard Candy). It is clear that Page has the talent.
And the last ten minutes are emotionally manipulative and morally wrong. [Spoiler: A dream sequence was added to give the audience hope admitted the director. But there is no hope. How can you play with a real life story in that was, especially one that is this touchy? And one of the last shots shows Page’s character in jail with Keener, appearing to her after death as a sign of forgiveness. This is beyond tasteless. I wonder how the girl’s family would feel about this shot if they were still alive.)
I don’t understand why anyone would subject themselves to An American Crime (which by the way has nothing to do with American. When the director was asked what made this crime American during the Q & A, he had no real answer).
/Film Rating: 4 out of 10