West of Memphis

“This is a movie that can stun you…. the most rare of films: one that indisputably matters….”—Alan Sherstuhl, Village Voice. “The exhaustive and exhilarating WEST OF MEMPHIS, from director Amy Berg (DELIVER US FROM EVIL), benefits from Berg’s own gifted filmmaking talents as well as the contributions of HOBBIT director Peter Jackson and partner Fran Walsh, who financed their own independent investigation and helped get the three released in August 2011. Like the “Paradise Lost” trilogy, Berg’s film helps illuminate a case that should certainly be the shame of the state of Arkansas, and perhaps the criminal justice system of the entire United States. The WM3 were convicted in 1994 of three child murders that were almost immediately, and with little obvious reason, announced as the work of a satanic cult, at a time when much of the country was in a panic over Satan worship and child abductions. As WEST OF MEMPHIS painstakingly explains, there was no forensic evidence linking any of the three to the deaths of the three boys, and there were certainly more obvious suspects (one of whom is all but indicted by Berg’s movie). But law enforcement needed an arrest and the misfit trio fit the prosecutorial bill. Berg does an outstanding job of summarizing the nearly two decades of court challenges, celebrity protests and the craven politics of Arkansas, to bring the story up to its not-entirely-satisfying conclusion. Stylish and concise, WEST OF MEMPHIS is also angry, indignant and a testament to righteous persistence”—John Anderson, Newsday. R. 146 Min.

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