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Parents' Guide to

A Cry in the Dark

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Mom is wrongly accused of murder; language, violence.

Movie PG-13 1988 120 minutes
A Cry in the Dark Poster Image

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A Cry in the Dark admirably recreates the mass hysteria that overtook Australia as citizens argued passionately about the role of a mother in her baby's death. Streep and Neill ably portray pawns in a media frenzy captured by Australian director Fred Schepisi. Intercut with the story are random debates, and even physical fights, among people at bars, on the street, during posh dinner parties, and on TV, echoing at times the chilling irrationality of the Salem witch trials. It almost explains how the phrase Lindy shouted that night in the Outback -- "A dingo took my baby!" -- became a punchline in Australia and among American comedians, as if someone stupid had made up the worst murder alibi ever.

Perhaps it's due to the complexity of this incredible yet true story that the film feels a bit murky at times. Late in the action a broken tent zipper is mentioned, for the first time explaining how an animal could possibly have entered the tent where seemingly responsible parents had left their newborn alone. And there's no explanation given for the Chamberlains' triumph over the judicial system as the film ends. We're simply told Lindy was released from prison and the couple was eventually exonerated.

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