BOSTON STRANGLER: FULL REVIEW
If there was ever a genre of film that cannot fail in my eyes, it's the investigative journalist subgenre. Placing the focal point of these vital investigative moments just works, especially when the two main characters are those who pushed the boundaries when the industry was more hesitant to allow woman to do so. Something about the entire journalistic process that was taken in reporting and investigating these crimes, in this case a series of murders- is just fascinating and opens the doors for some of the best storytelling opportunities.
Reporter Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) becomes the first person to connect a series of murders and break the story of the Boston Strangler. She and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) challenge the sexism of the early 1960s to report on the city's most notorious serial killer.
The Zodiac vibes are very much real as we see glimpses of moments prior to the murders, focusing more on McLaughlin's dedication towards busting open the case. Her obsession with solving the problems, and finding out the lack of drive that the Boston Police department had to assist in her doing so- begins to have an effect on her personal relationships with her family and coworkers. McLaughlin's endless frustrations of finding evidence before the BPD, dealing with the sexism of being a female journalist working an investigative piece in the 1960's, and having to constantly deal with all her hardwork ending up for nothing, just to start all over again. The way the story was able to constantly have Loretta and us, the viewers, believing we finally had the murderer figured- just for the next curveball to be thrown, was masterfully done and allowed what could've been a slow burn to have some energy towards its pacing.
I appreciated the fact that each of the suspects for the murder get named but there was never the full spotlight placed on them. Writer and director of the film Matt Ruskin definitely intended to not give these bad dudes more time in the sun, something that unfortunately doesn't happen often when covering true crime stories- as we live in an age where monsters are idolized by big actors giving them big iconic performances. Rather, Ruskin used the time he had for the film- to place the spotlight firmly on Loretta & Jean. On their struggles and dedications to their crafts, and to the contributions they made in pushing the often seemingly uninterested Boston police department in pursuing leads on the case.
Keira Knightley does a great job as our lead, it's a subdued performance that doesn't ask for any major scenes or monologues- but it doesn't need to be that. She blends into Loretta McLaughlin with so much love and admiration for the real life person behind the character. Carrie Coon does what she always does, and that is making sure that her limited screen time was memorable as she always managed to be the most captivating person on screen no matter who shared it with. I feel like we've been seeing a lot more of Alessandro Nivolo recently again, and everytime I see him I just enjoy the performance- this time as Loretta's informant within the police department. He's clearly being weighed down by all the death and frustration of not being able to get this man to justice, and the performance really rings that through.
Much like the rest within the subgenre, Boston Strangler becomes another really strong journalist story brought to life. It's not perfect, the slow burn unfortunately gets a slower in the third act- and though the ending twist is strong and memorable, the energy leading upto that point was drying up tremendously. The runtime feels a little long unfortunately, and it leaves the middle feeling like we're repeating the same moments over and over with no progression until the very last moments of the final act.