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Rotten Bananas: Boston Strangler 

Himika Akram reporter  

Writer come director Matt Ruskin’s crime thriller ‘Boston Strangler’ is based on true events and runs in the backdrop of early 1960s. Where a serial killer raped and killed 13 women in Boston by strangling them. This movie features Keira Knightly, who plays Loretta McLaughlin. We also have Carrie Coon who plays the role of Jean Cole. 

Both characters work for ‘Record-American’ newspaper, where Jean is given more serious, undercover kinds of pieces to work on, due to her seniority and years of experience. Whereas Loretta is sidelined to the lifestyle section where her job is to write the product reviews for the home appliance items. However, the situation became a little relaxed when a guy named Albert DeSalvo confessed to having committed the crimes.  But it is Loretta who suspected this one man might not have committed all the crimes. She could sense there are more people involved in these murders. Loretta connected the dots between 3 murders where after killing the victims, usually with the stockings, the murderer tied the death weapon like a bow around the dead bodies’ neck. This is something the male journalists who were covering these murders earlier, missed. A persistent Loretta convinces her reluctant boss to give her a chance to cover this story. Eventually her boss (Chris Cooper) decides to take a chance on her. Soon Jean and Loretta built a rapport between them, where Jean’s role is more like a mentor more than a co-worker for this report. These two women took the lead of the press investigation, which shook the history of Boston. 

I am a huge fan of Keira Knightly, so I had higher expectations from this film, so I was a little disappointed. The movie has a stark resemblance with David Fincher’s masterpiece ‘Zodiac,’ even though in an interview Ruskin acknowledged that before making this film, he was influenced by movies such as Zodiac, All the Presidents’ Men, Good Night, and Good Luck, etc. The victims murder scenes were ordinary and sometimes, seemed cheap where the close-up shots of the victims’ faces were taken. Also, in some scenes, this movie was trying to feed the audience with too much information, which took away from the characterization or the tension the story was supposed to have. No scary scenes were scary. Script required more strength.  

Both Keira and Carrie delivered impeccable performances, but because of the lack of a robust script, the weight of their performances got a bit lost. Director wanted to focus more on heavy concepts like sexism, feminism; and in course of that; lost the thrill quotient; which was supposed to be the main aspect of this movie. 

The movie finally left the ending to the audience’s belief and assumption. Since there were some complications around DeSalvo’s confession, it remained unsolved what happened in case of those 13 murders.   

Regardless, as a student of communication, two journalists’ bold endeavor by taking up such a challenge in that era, when women journalists were nothing more than “skirts” to their male counterparts; showing they can also be the significant changes if given the opportunity, was a delight to watch for me. In real life, Loretta’s personal life got so much effected by her chasing this story, that eventually she and her husband split (which this movie did not show). My overall rating of this movie would be 6.5/10. 

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