Arkansas, 1993. When three teenage boys are found abducted, tied up and murdered in a suspected Satanic rite, a working class area turns on three suspects, one of whom, confesses. The ensuing investigation and court case threaten to tear the community apart.
Somehow setting aside the fact that four documentaries have covered this ground awfully well over the past two decades, Atom Egoyan's dramatisation of the West Memphis Three case - during which a trio of Arkansas teens were tried and seemingly railroaded for the murders of three young boys - doesn't hold a candle to his own tales of small-town trauma (namely, The Sweet Hereafter). The considerable ensemble often seems to be regurgitating transcripts and depositions even when out of court, with only Reese Witherspoon's grieving mother bringing much genuine emotion to a film supposedly indignant over injustice and uncertainty. (Colin Firth’s pro bono investigator is handed a non-starter divorce subplot for his troubles.) The result feels more like a stiff book report than a sobering account of an all-American tragedy.
A decent retelling of the West Memphis Three case, although lacking the gut-punch impact of the Peter Jackson-produced West Of Memphis.