For fans of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), a film that swept the Academy Awards with five wins including Best Picture, The Boston Strangler (2023) might come as a surprise. Unlike its predecessor, which focused on the chilling psychology of a serial killer, The Boston Strangler shines its light on the daring and often overlooked role of investigative journalism, particularly during a time when the field was dominated by men.

While both films share the presence of a strong female protagonist, the similarities end there. The Boston Strangler shifts its focus away from the macabre details of the crimes and instead celebrates the tenacity and courage of Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), two journalists who defied societal norms to uncover the truth behind the Boston Strangler murders.

Those who came to The Boston Strangler expecting a repeat of the cinematic brilliance of The Silence of the Lambs, with its iconic performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster and the masterful direction of Jonathan Demme, might feel disappointed. However, the film delivers its own unique strengths, offering a compelling and well-acted story about the power of investigative journalism and the importance of giving a voice to the voiceless.

While The Boston Strangler may not replicate the exact same cinematic experience as its predecessor, it stands on its own merits, offering a captivating glimpse into a different aspect of the true crime genre. It is a tribute to the courage and determination of the women who dared to challenge the status quo and fight for justice, making it a worthwhile watch for those seeking a unique and thought-provoking film experience.

The Boston Strangler, a 2023 historical crime thriller directed by Matt Ruskin, delves into the chilling story of the unidentified serial killer who terrorized Boston in the 1960s. The film, based on the true events and the book of the same name by Loretta McLaughlin, shines a light on the tireless efforts of two female journalists who defied the societal norms of the time to uncover the truth.

A Story Told Through Compelling Lenses

The film masterfully interweaves the investigation with the societal context of the 1960s. Keira Knightley delivers a captivating performance as Loretta McLaughlin, a tenacious reporter who challenges the male-dominated media landscape and refuses to be silenced. Carrie Coon portrays Jean Cole, a fellow journalist who provides unwavering support and a keen eye for detail.

The film doesn’t shy away from the gruesome nature of the crimes, but it cleverly avoids gratuitous violence. Instead, it focuses on the psychological impact of the murders on both the victims and the city as a whole. The constant fear and uncertainty are palpable, creating a suspenseful atmosphere that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

Beyond the Headlines: Unmasking the Human Cost

“The Boston Strangler” goes beyond the typical crime thriller by highlighting the often-overlooked role of women in journalism and investigative work. McLaughlin and Cole face sexism and prejudice from their colleagues and superiors, but they remain undeterred, driven by a deep sense of justice and a desire to give the victims a voice.

The film also sheds light on the impact of the murders on the women of Boston. The fear and anxiety are pervasive, forcing them to live in constant fear and suspicion. The film does not shy away from portraying the emotional toll of the crimes, adding a layer of depth and humanity to the story.

A Well-Crafted Narrative with a Haunting Atmosphere

The film’s pacing is deliberate, carefully building suspense and tension as the investigation unfolds. The cinematography is dark and gritty, perfectly capturing the mood of the time and reflecting the city’s fear. The score is equally haunting, adding to the overall atmosphere of unease and uncertainty.

While the film does not explicitly reveal the identity of the Boston Strangler, it leaves the audience with a sense of unease and the unsettling possibility that the truth may never be fully known. This ambiguity fuels the film’s lasting impact, leaving a lasting impression on viewers long after the credits roll.

A Timely Reminder of the Importance of Investigative Journalism

“The Boston Strangler” is not just a historical crime thriller; it is a timely reminder of the importance of investigative journalism in holding power accountable and giving a voice to the voiceless. In an era of fake news and misinformation, the film serves as a powerful testament to the courage and dedication of journalists like McLaughlin and Cole, who risked everything to expose the truth.

Overall, “The Boston Strangler” is a gripping and thought-provoking film that offers a fresh perspective on a familiar story. It is a powerful testament to the human spirit, showcasing the courage of women who defied societal norms to fight for justice. With its compelling performances, well-crafted narrative, and haunting atmosphere, “The Boston Strangler” is a must-see for fans of the genre and anyone interested in true crime and historical dramas.

Prof. Dr. Přahlada N. B
12 December 2023

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