Review / ‘Devil’s Knot’ (M) ***

Devils-KnotFROM Egypt-born Canada-reared director Atom Egoyan comes a forensic docu-drama about the 1993 murder of three small boys that came to be known as the “West Memphis case”. Three teenaged boys were tried and found guilty of the crime.

The screenplay by co-producer Paul Harris Boardman examines the belief of private investigator Ron Lax that they were innocent. Colin Firth gets the film’s top billing as Lax, in real life a high achiever in his profession until his death last year.

Playing Pam, mother of one of the victims, Reese Witherspoon delivers unimpressive anger, hysteria and grief.

The underlying thesis of the crime is that the three accused were engaged in a satanic cult. In a semi-rural community where Christian fundamentalism strongly influenced the population, that coupled with the violent and sexual elements of the crime led to prejudices surfacing outside the court-house. Lax worked pro bono to show that while heavy metal bands, drugs and possibly aberrant sexual practices influenced the defendants, the State had not proved its case.

Egoyan is a skilled director with an impressive filmography. His films often offer a dialectic here suffering from a ponderous pace that constricts our interest in discovering its truth and its dramatic values. That’s regrettable.

At Dendy and Palace Electric

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