You Might Not Thank Me Later

An American Crime debuts on Showtime tonight (as far as I can tell, making this the first opportunity for an audience beyond Sundance to see it), a fact I normally wouldn’t point out to you. A true-story drama depicting the tale of a broken-down mother of seven (Catherine Keener) who tortures her teenaged boarder (Ellen Page–yes, that Ellen Page), An American Crime is, quite simply, hard to watch. It becomes even more so when Keener’s character’s children and their friends get involved in the fun and games, eventually leading to Page’s character’s death. We’re talking branding, folks, and that’s not the worst of it. It’s well made, and certainly (particularly on Keener’s part) well-acted. But despite its lofty title, the movie doesn’t do much to tie the crime into an analysis of America or poverty or families or, well, much more than the crime itself. I can’t decide if this is a brave move (come to your own conclusions) or a foolhardy one (we’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions), but it is an uncomfortable one.

However, Bradley Whitford plays the attorney who prosecutes the case, and I feel obliged to mention the premiere for that reason. Maybe go see him on stage in New York instead.

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