Perhaps the premise that navigates away from the whodunit aspect to more of a social critique about sexism is the uniqueness that made Matt Ruskin make a movie like Boston Strangler. What makes it a compelling watch is the fact that it goes beyond the motive and the killer. But the film is too invested in the investigative part of the story that the evil act and the fear it created somewhere gets sidelined.
In 1962, Record American reporter Loretta McLaughlin took a special interest in three murder cases where aged women were killed by strangers by strangling them in the same pattern. Her report wasn’t well received by the authorities. Since the murders never ended, she and her fellow reporter Jean Cole continued to work on this story. The decade-long follow-up of this story is what we see in Boston Strangler.
The idea is captivating, and there is a clear parallel between the motive of the culprits and the personal hurdles these reporters had to face while bringing out the truth. The movie was way too inclined toward that political aspect of sexism. If the storytelling was a bit more even in covering the murders, the nervous energy would have been much better. As the film approaches its finale, the twistedness of the whole plan might bewilder you. But that expected intricacy in something of this magnitude is clearly missing.
As Loretta McLaughlin, Keira Knightley steps away from her usual style. Knightley effectively portrayed McLaughlin’s evolution from that initial enthusiasm and outbursts to that mature numbness as she uncovered the truth. Carrie Coon, as Jean Cole, the veteran in the job, was convincing with her portrayal. Unlike other investigative journalism-based thrillers, Boston Strangler does not give much space to other characters. Hence, none of the other performances register with us.
The saturated investigative journalism thriller space might have made Matt Ruskin look for a new perspective in approaching this story. The choice to go with a woke narrative would have worked if the script was more riveting. As much as I appreciate showcasing the workplace discrimination faced by the women of that era, ultimately, the purpose is to give us an engrossing and unsettling experience. And in that aspect, Boston Strangler was a tad short on intensity. Pale color cinematography is a genre trait. I loved the edit pattern of some moments where our protagonists are close to getting a breakthrough.
Boston Strangler, being based on a true story, deserves a watch for sure. If they had made the film more of a crime thriller, the severity of the situation and the challenges of these reporters would have had a more significant impact. Boston Strangler definitely documents the events, but it struggles to communicate the dread around the whole case.
Boston Strangler definitely documents the events, but it struggles to communicate the dread around the whole case.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended