Monday, March 11 2013, 05:15 PM MDT
Movie Review: West of Memphis
West of Memphis
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Amy Berg
Recommended to: Those looking for a concise overview of the story of the West Memphis Three.
“West of Memphis” is a very good documentary that effectively tells the story of three teens that were tried and convicted of killing three young boys in Arkansas. They were convicted despite a lack of evidence and would spend nearly 20 years behind bars. Their story would have fallen through the cracks were it not for filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky and their trilogy of “Paradise Lost” films. The first two “Paradise Lost” films directly led to the making of “West of Memphis.” In many ways, because director Amy Berg had the previous films to reference, “West of Memphis” is more focused and ultimately a stronger film when judged directly against any of the “Paradise Lost” films. It lacks some of the sensationalism that appeared in the second “Paradise Lost” film, but that’s because Berlinger and Sinofsky were making the films as the events unfolded. Berg has the benefit of knowing in advance what tangents proved to be dead ends and stuck to the meat and potatoes of the story. Oddly enough it was some of the dead ends in “Paradise Lost” that said the most about how society’s immediate need for answers and justice can obscure the truth from law enforcement and filmmakers alike. I’m highly recommending that you see “West in Memphis,” but do me a favor and go back and give the ‘Paradise Lost” films a viewing as well. That way I won’t feel like I’m ditching the groundbreaking films for the newer, slimmer and sexier version of the story.
-Ryan Michael Painter