Film as Investigation

WEST OF MEMPHIS ****1/2 (out of five)


Amy Berg’s documentary West of Memphis, about the “Memphis Three”, may seem, on the surface, superfluous, especially if you’ve seen Joe Berlinger’ and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost trilogy, which covers the same case, and whose last installment, Purgatory, only came out in 2011. Indeed, Purgatory is a relatively similar film, in that it brings the viewer up to speed with the very latest developments in the case – and they are, as has ever been the way with this absurd sequence of events, extraordinary.

images-2Berg’s film does have new revelations, however, and they will astound newbies and Memphis Three addicts alike. Producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh have funded a whole new investigation into the case, which included the discovery of DNA evidence, and the new film, besides covering the whole sordid affair, tracks this investigation, with the suspense, excitement and stomach-churning dread of an expert thriller. It does not come to any empty conclusions, but rather a deeply satisfying hypothesis that will be both thrilling revelation and frustrating paradox to those who have followed the case for years.

images-4For those who have not, and who have never seen the Paradise Lost films or even know who the Memphis Three are, just see this film – a detailed account of a grisly American crime and the shocking miscarriage of justice it has engendered for decades. And even if you think you know it all, you don’t – the new material in here makes it vital for you to make one last trip to the endless, fascinating, disturbing world of the Memphis Three, West of Memphis, where truth has been stranger than fiction since 1993.

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