REVIEW: The Devil’s Knot

DRAMATISING REAL EVENTS: Reese Witherspoon in The Devil’s Knot.DEVIL’S KNOT (M)
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Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth

Director: Atom Egoyan

Screening: selected cinemas

Rating: ★★

THERE have been documentaries aplenty about the tragic events in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, when three boys were killed and three teens convicted of murder.

The emphasis has always been on the circumstances of the convictions. A careless investigation and the assumption the killings were part of a Satanic ritual led to the singling out of three teens whose interest in heavy metal and Wiccan practices were considered proof of their guilt.

With The Devil’s Knot, Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan dramatises the story. Names remain the same and actors have been cast for their resemblance to real people. Only with the two leads does there appear to be some degree of poetic licence. Colin Firth plays Ron Lax, an investigator for the defence, while Reese Witherspoon plays Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the dead boys.

Devil’s Knot has no doubt there was a miscarriage of justice, but chooses not to throw its weight behind an alternative theory. It’s not clear what the filmmakers felt was to be gained by dramatising the story, in this bland and constrained work of fiction.