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Review The Boston Strangler: Keira “crime” Knightley

Let’s find out together, in this dedicated review, if and how convincing the crime story told by Matt Ruskin in The Boston Strangler, the new film starring Keira Knightley available on Disney Plus, was.

ORIGINAL TITLE: Boston Strangler. TYPE: Drama, Crime, Thriller, History. NATION: United States of America. REGIA: Matt Ruskin. CAST: Keira Knightley, Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola, Chris Cooper, David Dastmalchian, Morgan Spector, Bill Camp, Rory Cochrane, Peter Gerety, Robert John Burke. DURATION: 112 minutes. DISTRIBUTOR: Disney Plus. PRODUCER: LuckyChap Entertainment, Scott Free Productions. EXIT: 17/03/2023.

Albert Henry DeSalvo. This is the name that historically refers to the serial killer best known as “The Boston Strangler” and who “carried out his business” in the 1960s, precisely in Boston. DeSalvo confessed to the murders of thirteen women, but his real guilt is still the subject of discussion and dispute and is currently linked with certainty, through DNA testing, to only one of these murders. Leaving aside the historical side, DeSalvo’s story inspired a film back in 1968 directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Tony Curtis to impersonate the killer.

The Boston Strangler: a close review

In 2023, Matt Ruskin tried again, however, bringing into the spotlight not the suspected multiple murderer, but one of the two journalists who, at the time, investigated the facts: Loretta McLaughlin. Played by the always beautiful (albeit with this 50s cut…) Keira Knightley, Loretta is a young and enterprising reporter for a local Boston newspaper and mainly deals with articles dedicated to “Fashion and Costume”. Between one toaster and another, Loretta finds herself mixed up, of her own accord, in investigations related to a mysterious serial killer who has begun to sow death in the city. The Boston Strangler is back, this time on Disney Plus, and we’re talking about it in this dedicated review.

The Boston Strangler Review: Keira "crime" Knightley

Between detective and journalist | The Boston Strangler review

Loretta will therefore be the first person to find actual correlations between the cruel deaths of elderly (initially) ladies that are taking place recently throughout Boston. Her friend and confidant Jean Cole will also arrive alongside her, played by a Carrie Coon always at the top and which raises, by itself, the general quality of the film. In reality, the most interesting part of the film is the background to the narration of the events that will lead to DeSalvo’s arrest: the social criticism.

As mentioned, Loretta’s life and career is, up to the turning point, the daughter of her times. That of journalism was, in the 60s (but also later, until not so long ago) a strongly masculine and male-centric environment. Obviously, the few women who managed to become part of editorial offices of a certain importance, such as that of the Record American depicted in The Boston Strangler, were constantly relegated to articles of secondary importance and more focused on the more purely female roles dictated by society .

Attention shift | The Boston Strangler review

Precisely for this reason, the protagonist of this new Boston Strangler is no longer DeSalvo played by Tony Curtis from 1968, but the attention is diametrically shifted to the two journalists, the epicenter of the whole film. Their tenacity and their spirit of will will soon collide against the harshness of the real world and against the ruthlessness of a killer who starts targeting them. following them and threatening them with anonymous and silent phone calls. The two almost go from being journalists to real detectives: a real fire of passion pushes them towards the truth. A truth that, unfortunately, still today is full of inconsistencies and unsaid.

And that’s what’s good about The Boston Strangler. If we consider the crime part of the narrative, this was handled in a superficial and uninvolving way, enough to make the plot almost boring in the second half. The initial interest, given mainly by the possibility, given to the viewer, to immerse themselves in a successful setting (albeit partially due to an all too basic and “dull” photography) and almost iconic, gradually diminishes due to directorial choices not quite spot on. Explaining us.

The Boston Strangler Review: Keira "crime" Knightley

Bitter tears | The Boston Strangler review

In our opinion, The Boston Strangler tried so hard to be a crime film, to insert all the clichés of the genre, to create an air of palpable tension, that it failed miserably at the attempt. The fair of excess, we dare say, especially in contexts where a different and less deliberately scenic shot would really have been enough to make a dialogue less flashy. The same cast, with the exception of a practically flawless Carrie Coon, suffers from this.

A premise: the writer adores Keira Knightley as an actress. In this context, however, in addition to the very questionable haircut (also her son, alas, hers from her time), her enormous potential is stopped completely by low-value dialogue and screenplay choices. We were also very sorry not to see some aspects of the life of the two women in depth, who we remember are the protagonists of the film, not so much the serial killer. For example, Jean’s private life is not explored in any way, while Loretta’s remains on a layer of superficiality at times irritating: her husband, in particular, goes from being the most understanding man in the world to not wanting to know nothing more within three scenes. A great pity, in many respects.

The Boston Strangler Review: Keira "crime" Knightley

A shame!

At the end of this review of The Boston Strangler, we can safely say, as crime story enthusiasts, that we do not recommend it to crime story enthusiasts. Although the social cross-section given by the film written and directed by Matt Ruskin and which focuses on the toxic machismo that permeated every aspect of the time is really interesting and well rendered, on the other hand the purely dark side and linked to the figure of Albert DeSalvo travels on the edge of banality and superficiality. Sin!

Plus points

  • Carrie Coon is in top form
  • Intriguing, in the first instance, the crime component…
  • The social critique is interesting

Points against

  • … but who loses d’impact very soon
  • Second part slow and boring
  • Direction and photography shortly d’impact

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