Sunday, May 25, 2008

An American Crime

Tonight I saw An American Crime, starring Catherine Keener and Ellen Page.

The story tells of the true 1965 torture and murder of Sylvia Likens (Page), a girl who was boarded, along with her sister, at the house of a crazy woman as her parents worked in a traveling carnival.

Keener expertly portrays the mother, Gertrude, who is equal parts righteous and restrained. You get the sense that in her warped head, she is doing the "right" thing by punishing a girl who supposedly talks trash about her daughter.

Of course Sylvia isn't really saying anything bad and the woman's daughter is the real whore of the house, but that doesn't stop Gertrude from beating, burning and humiliating her—and instructing others to play along.

The film is like a car accident: on one hand you can't stand to watch because it's morbid; on the other, you can't take your eyes off of it because it is so horrific.

The performances in this film are award-worthy and I hope both ladies get their due credit when all is said and done.

It can't have been an easy film to make.


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