Film Review: West of Memphis

Reviewing West of Memphis has been a tad tricky for someone used to throwing sarcastic witticisms into their writing to distract readers from its lack of substance. This is a serious film with serious events, serious issues and serious things.

I am interested in serious things but if you’re a Steve Carrell fan (or into other Steve Carrell-like people which I am too unhip to know about) West of Memphis probably isn’t the film for you.

But if you like documentaries about injustice and other serious things stay with me while I put on my serious writing hat and review this compelling tale of injustice.

Directed by Amy Berg, West of Memphis tells the story of the West Memphis Three – the Arkansas teenagers wrongly convicted of the murders of three eight-year-old boys in 1993.

The film documents the twists and turns of their 18 year struggle for freedom, while also making comment on the concept of justice as applied in America today.

This somewhat long documentary – it runs for two-and-a-half hours – tells a tale involving official misconduct, police incompetence and the wilful prosecution of three teenagers living on the edge of society.

Referencing the Satanic influence which was originally believed to have inspired the murders, West of Memphis also comments on the role public perception and outrage played in fuelling the suspicion around and eventual prosecution of the West Memphis Three.

Ultimately, West of Memphis

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is a depiction of the fragile notion of justice in the face of incomprehensible acts.

If all of this is not enough incentive for you, mentioning the West Memphis Three in bars (which you will probably enter to drown your sorrows after having witnessed West of Memphis) will probably impress people and at two-and-a-half hours long, it’s also a suitable procrastination tool.

I believe people call that win-win.

Louella Fitzsimmons

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