Rex Reed gets to the heart of Devil’s Knot.
Calling the film “deeply unsettling but highly recommended”, Rex Reed wrote that it’s a “compelling, distrubing and revitalized look at both the adults whose world was shattered by senseless tragedy and the young people who were used as scapegoats for ignorance. Devil’s Knot addresses myriad points of view to challenge the conscience, make us cynically aware of the weaknesses of due precess, and question the abuses of power in the American justices system.”
Here’s what I wrote about the film after seeing its premiere in Toronto:
Director Egoyan personalizes the murders of three eight-year-old boys, drawing in tight on the grief of Pam Hobbs (Witherspoon), the mother of one of the victims. At the same time, by pulling back to the POV of savvy private investigator Ron Lax (Firth), who volunteers to assist attorneys for the three teenagers charged with the crime, Egoyan portrays with a cold eye the mistakes, maneuvers and mayhem that shaped its aftermath.
For viewers, the result is a creeping sense of dread that this mystery, based closely on true events, is about to veer into even darker territory than that of the crime scene itself. Egoyan knows–as will many viewers–that the state of Arkansas considers this chilling case solved. He challenges that certainty by allowing a spider of doubt to enter and move insidiously from one scene to another, until viewers are caught in the web of this case–one that, two decades later, still holds almost everyone who’s encountered it.
This is The Crucible of our time, only here, the hysteria is felt, not seen, and the persecution continues. By understating his story, Egoyan lets a legion of details–factual and emotional–bedevil it.