|Available at Amazon.com|
First a warning. Some of this movie is hard to watch. Secondly, if you can stomach it, this is an amazing movie.
An American Crime isn’t hard to watch in a Saw kind of way as it’s not straight out gore, instead of showing the events they’ll zoom in on Page’s face in agony or to the outside of the house with the screams in the background. And just to give you a little more of a feeling as to how chilling it actually is, it’s actually a little skin-turning just to write about it.
An American Crime starts off with two sisters at a carnival that their parents work at. Through narration we learn the parents are having problems when the movie jumps ahead to the mother and daughters walking into church where the father shows up to talk to the mother about getting a booth at the state fair. And while the mother is originally against the idea, she agrees when they find a local woman to take care of the children.
The children start out ok in the new house, and they get along well with the other children in the house. The movie makes its turn when the parents’ first check is a day late. Because the check didn’t show up right on time, the children get a few whacks with a leather strap and that’s the easiest of the abuse to watch.
After that day one of the other girls at the house, Paula, confides in Page that she is pregnant. However, when Page brings it up to Paula’s boyfriend to stop him from beating her, Paula says Page will pay for that. So Paula goes home and tells her mother, played by Catherine Keener, that Page is spreading lies about her. And that’s when the movie turns. It starts out with Paula being allowed to attack Page for the “lies.” And then when, completely without help from Page, the rumor continues to spread, the mother turns up the torture going from cigarette burns, to cutting words into her stomach with a razor, to branding her. After that Keener finds out that Paula is in fact pregnant and that Page has been telling the truth the whole time.
And you’d think that would make the movie turn again. Nope. She apologizes to Page for the way she’s been treated, but passes it off by saying she’s doing it to protect her children’s reputation. And then continues the torture. Keener isn’t the only one who tortures Page; Keener actually encourages all of her children to attack her as well. After awhile, Paula helps Page get out of the house because she feels bad for her. Page winds up back with her parents who take her back to the house to get her sister, and that’s where the movie spins you around and punches you in the gut with the twist.
From there it’s just wrapping up loose ends in court. And going through with a narration from Page as to which people got what punishments from the court.
The other part of this movie that adds to the disturbing feeling of the movie is that it’s a true story and actually happened. All of the words spoken in the courtroom come from the actual court testimony. And the entire story is based on that same testimony.
Page and Keener both do a good job in roles that are long off their usual roles. And none of the acting detracts from the movie.
An American Crime is present in 16×9 Widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
Not much here. There are trailers for An American Crime, Blood Brothers, Meet Bill, War Inc., Day of the Dead, August, The Art of Travel, The Neighbor and Ghouls.
Go get this now. Fantastic movie that will grab you by the throat and shocks the hell out of you.
First Look Studios Presents An American Crime. Directed by Tommy O’Haver. Starring Catherine Keener, Ellen Page, and Bradley Whitford. Written by Tommy O’Haver. Running time: 92 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: August 19th, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.