Benjamin Maio Mackay
Devil’s Knot - 4 Stars
This movie, based on the devastating events of the 1993 massacre of 3 innocent children is a disturbing look at the ignorance and bias of the police force of the time, and the power of mass hysteria.
Devil’s Knot had to walk a very fine line, it had to be thrilling enough to capture a market, but also not over embellish the facts of the horrific crime. I think writers, Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson did a superb job representing the feeling of loss in the community, and capturing the torment of the mother’s grief. An interesting aspect of the film that the writers also portray is the apparent witch-hunt of the believed criminals. The community condemns them from the outset because they are different from the rest of the close-knit community.
Both leading actors Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon played roles well outside their comfort zones and did an outstanding job. Colin Firth had a very convincing American accent and maintained it the whole way through. His role did not call for a wide range of emotions to be portrayed, but he did certainly exceed the limits of what was scripted.
Reese Witherspoon also gave a convincing performance, but didn’t seem to put her all into it. What was very interesting is that there seemed a very strong rapport between the two leading actors even though they only shared 4 scenes in the film. This made the intensity of their scenes together seem very realistic.
Throughout the first half of the film very little dialogue was used, but this meant the cinematography and music had to make up for the lack of dialogue, and that was certainly achieved. The cinematographer (Paul Sarossy) effectively used location footage to enforce the menacing nature of the story. Nothing ground breaking or overly difficult was done with the filming, but paired with Mychael Danna’s haunting score it certainly created the emotive response they were trying to achieve.
Overall, the movie is a sad reflection on the bias of the community and ignorance of the police force during the investigation. While the end of the film doesn’t provide a definite answer it certainly leaves you pondering the events for a long time after the credits role.
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Movie screening courtesy of Palace Nova Cinemas