Devil’s Knot 2013


The true-life case of the three US teenagers whose penchant for Satanic rituals made them prime suspects for the murder of three children has been well documented in Joe Berlinger’s Paradise Lost; whatever theories might exist about the real killers, it’s somewhat irrefutable that the letter of the law was sloppily applied. Unleashing Atom Egoyan, whose crime reconstructions featured memorably in Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter, on such material promises something intense, but while Devil’s Knot is a useful primer for anyone unfamiliar with the case, it’s a curiously flat film. Reese Witherspoon plays the mother of one of the boys, while Colin Firth affects a semi-convincing southern drawl as the lawyer who agrees to work pro-bono to defend the teenagers. Egoyan dramatizes many of the events perfunctorily, without addressing the many questions still pertinent, but there’s some interesting garnish; Egoyan depicts Vicki (Mireille Enos) at an orgy in an open field, then cuts to her at home watching Jack Starrett’s Race with the Devil (1975), leaving the truth of her statements muddied to say the least. While a disappointing film, Devil’s Knot does have a compelling story to tell, even if what it adds only makes uncovering the truth seem a more tricky task than before. On VOD May 9th.


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