‘The Boston Strangler’, review: a direct indictment of the police based on a macabre true case

According to the film The Boston Strangleravailable on Disney+ from March 17., a the journalist Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) took her seven days to realize something the police ignored for months. The similarities between the murders of three elderly women in the city of Boston. The camera follows the character – based on the eponymous real-life figure – through an ever-expanding investigation.

First, casually, at the desk table of the newspaper’s newsroom. Record American in which he works. She then went much deeper, consulting with police officers, psychiatrists and neighbors of the victims to gather information. Within a week, the editor tied up the dots and eventually proved that the crimes had been committed by the same man.

Director and screenwriter Matt Ruskin makes clear that. Loretta is a tenacious woman who presents her work as a combination of determination and attention to detail. Something the city authorities lack. In fact, part of The Boston Strangler is a direct accusation: the crimes committed by this serial killer could have been avoided. Gradually, the plot shows how the journalist works on incomplete clues and discarded or even ignored evidence. All the while a good part of the uniformed officials despise her work or, in the worst case, prevent her from doing it.

The Boston Strangler, poster

The Boston Strangler

Matt Ruskin’s The Boston Strangler delves into the investigation of one of the most vicious serial killers in American history from the point of view of Loretta McLaughlin. The journalist was the first to link the crimes together, something the screenplay takes pains to highlight and details in a careful reconstruction of the events. However, the film falls short in its need to narrate everything it proposes. From machismo in journalism, to the incapacity of the police officers in charge of the case.


Score : 3.5 out of 5.

The Boston Stranglerthe deadly omissions in an age of discrimination

The Boston Stranglerwhich reconstructs the murders that took place in Boston between June 14, 1962 and January 4, 1964, is precise. With a conscious similarity to David Fincher’s way of narrating – especially in his work The Zodiac – the director asks pertinent questions. Specifically, how many of the mistakes of investigators, prosecutors and rank-and-file police officers resulted in the death of any of the thirteen victims.

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He also addresses the way prejudice built a barrier against. LorettaThe writer had to face to prove the results of her investigations. As a woman in the midst of a conservative era, the journalist had real difficulties in continuing her work. An element that would later make it possible to evaluate her achievements from a concrete perspective. Her courage in the midst of a hostile environment that hindered all her efforts.

The Boston Strangler explores the grave implications of these circumstances. The character, played by Keira Knightley, must endure ridicule, insults and pressure. At the same time, her careful reconstruction of the crime scenes and the context surrounding them is scorned. The plot emphasizes how Lorettatogether with the also journalist Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), struggled to be heard. Even though the case left no doubt that everything was more complicated than just random homicides.

The responsibility of power to prevent a heinous crime.

The Boston StranglerThe Boston StranglerKeira Knightley as Loretta McLaughlin in The Boston Strangler. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The story benefits from not trying to excuse or glorify its characters. The director endows The Boston Strangler of a careful chronicle. Something he achieves with a visual section that places special emphasis on historical recreation and builds spaces that symbolize journalistic work. The corridors and corridors of the newsroom become narrower and darker as the investigation becomes more difficult, while the lighting gives a painful tone to the domestic scenes.

What is most surprising about The Boston Strangler is the way in which the script manages to advance two parallel narrative threads. On the one hand, that of Loretta as a character, trying to reconcile her marital status with the importance of the journalistic work she performs. On the other, the social and cultural impact of the increasingly brutal and unpredictable crimes.

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For its second hour, the film delves into several points of view about the same analysis of cultural evil. From the ruthless killer, to the officers who make his capture harder. Cruelty is everywhere. An idea that the narrative addresses by moving away from the clichés of the investigative and detective genre.

Justice, the big winner in The Boston Strangler

If one element fails in Matt Ruskin’s film, it is its ability to be more than a reconstruction of a relevant case. The insinuations about sexism in the world of journalism and the accusations of police bias and inadequacy fall short of the mark.

Much more so, when it becomes clear that. The Boston Strangler bases its effectiveness on subtle denunciation. Whether because of overambition or because the script deviates more often than necessary from its central setting, the story seems incomplete.

All in all, it has a solid enough plot. Lorettain the midst of family, political and cultural pressures, moves forward until she uncovers the details of a brutal case that she discovered by dint of her ability to deduce and method. In the process, she exposed the police of her city and the journalists around her.

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By the end of The Boston Strangler– slightly anticlimactic in its need to appear timely -, the message is clear. The investigator is – and in real life was – an unsung heroine. One capable of fighting through a minefield of moral and judicial obstacles to justice. At least, as close as the victims and their families will get in the midst of a brutal and frightening circumstance.