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Atom Egoyan dramatizes the fallout from the notorious 1993 West Memphis murders, focusing on the grieving mother (Reese Witherspoon) of one of the murdered boys as she grows increasingly troubled by the lynch-mob fever that grips the town.
When three young boys were brutally
murdered in the small community of West
Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, their deaths
led to shock and outrage in this tightly
knit religious town. It wasn't long before
three teenagers were arrested, tried, and
sentenced — two of them to life imprisonment
and one to death — despite the fact
that they all claimed innocence. This story
of wrongful conviction roiled the American
justice system, brought a number of prominent
movie stars and rock musicians to
the defence of the three young men, and
resulted in a trilogy of documentaries,
Paradise Lost, that did much to keep the
case in the public eye.
Atom Egoyan has revisited the story of
the West Memphis Three and dramatized
it for the screen in a film as compelling and
disturbing as the truth itself. Egoyan is a
master at telling tales about deeply misunderstood
outsiders, their families and
communities, and their darkest fantasies.
In Devil's Knot Egoyan is completely at
home sketching the small-town lives of
ordinary people befuddled and angered by
the senseless killing in their ostensibly safe
town. Reese Witherspoon plays Pam Hobbs,
mother of one of the murdered boys, whose
grief and shock is palpably felt and subtly
depicted. Into her life comes Ron Lax (Colin
Firth, also at the Festival in The Railway
Man), a private investigator for whom the
sum of the case's parts doesn't quite add up,
and who is driven to get at the truth.
While much of Devil's Knot focuses on
the adults embroiled in the case, Egoyan is
also highly sensitive to the young accused,
whose lives are shattered by the deaths
and who must face the scorn of the town.
The three are cast by a series of witnesses
as deviant satanic cultists, as all sense of
justice and proportion is abandoned in the
rush for a convenient scapegoat.
- Atom Egoyan
- Atom Egoyan was born in Cairo and
raised in Victoria, British Columbia.
His many features include Family
Viewing (87), which won Best
Canadian Feature at the Festival; The
Adjuster (91); Exotica (94) and The
Sweet Hereafter (97), which both won
the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes, the latter
also winning the Grand Prix; Ararat
(02), which won the Genie Award for
best picture; Adoration (08), which
won a Special Jury citation at the
Festival; Chloe (09), which premiered
at the Festival; and Devil's Knot (13).