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Parents' Guide to

Devil's Knot

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Bleak, disappointing retelling of powerful true story.

Movie NR 2014 114 minutes
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This powerful true story has already been told in greater depth in four documentaries, so a feature film treatment at this point seems opportunistic at best. Through Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's three Paradise Lost films, released in 1996, 2000, and 2011, and Amy Berg's 2012 West of Memphis, the story has become fairly well known, attracting celebrity activists such as Peter Jackson and Eddie Vedder.

Acclaimed director Atom Egoyan is another factor; in his career, he has bounced back and forth between sexy, voyeuristic films (Chloe), where he seems comfortable, and heavy, preachy, message-heavy art films, where he does not. Comparing Devil's Knot to his somewhat similar The Sweet Hereafter, it's easy to see that, where that earlier film had grace, depth, and beauty, Devil's Knot seems all chilly surface, skimming over details and adding only cursory character elements, such as Hobbs' visit to her dead son's classroom. Lacking community or connection, it's a movie of gloomy resignation.

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