BY DANITA STEINBERG
Devil’s Knot follows the true story of three boys who are murdered in West Memphis and the suspicious trial proceedings that happen after their deaths. Reese Witherspoon plays a grieving mother and Colin Firth plays an investigator determined to uncover the truth.
Canadian director Atom Egoyan had his work cut out for him when he set out to make Devil’s Knot, as this is a very current, hot-button issue without a happy ending or many answers. Egoyan tells the story as straightforward and objectively as possible (which is unlike him), offering no more answers than we already have. There are many opinions to take on the case and it is refreshing when Egoyan doesn’t try to sway the audience into believing one thing over another.
That being said, this objectivity leads to a rather empty journey. I left the theatre feeling cold, as if the two hours I just spent weren’t about three murdered young boys and three wrongfully convicted teenagers. Unfortunately, Devil’s Knot didn’t really need to be made, especially with the superior documentary, West of Memphis, which tells the same story and was released last year.
The only emotion in Devil’s Knot comes from Reese Witherspoon’s performance. She plays the mother of one of the murdered boys and plays her convincingly, further proving her versatility as an actress. Unafraid to look frumpy, Witherspoon loses herself in the role, which is not small task, especially for such a famous face. Colin Firth as the case investigator is also riveting, but his performance is still not up to par with some of his other more notable ones.
If you know nothing of the story beforehand, Devil’s Knot will provide you with the basics, and provide them in a respectable manner. If you already know the story, and are looking for insight, Devil’s Knot can be skipped. If it weren’t for the A-list names involved, Devil’s Knot would not rise above any old true crime made-for-television movie.
Devil’s Knot premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 8, 2013.
Danita loves musicals, Bette Midler, sandwiches, Real Housewives, great horror films, and The Golden Girls. She’s a barista, bookworm, cinephile, and celebrity stalker. If she’s at home, she’s in her pajamas. Follow her on Twitter @danita_35.