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West of Memphis aims to be the definitive West Memphis Three story.

South of Heaven

West of Memphis aims to be the definitive West Memphis Three story [ok]

February 19, 2013, 12:00 am

Now that Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, the so-called West Memphis Three, are free, do we need more media devoted to them? There are the Paradise Lost documentaries, a Henry Rollins album and Echols just released a book.

It’s best to look at West of Memphis as The New Yorker of documentaries; it takes what is designed to be the definitive look at a story about which there is an abundance of information already available.

Of course, The New Yorker isn’t perfect. Neither is West of Memphis. The story is one-sided (though it’s hard to imagine the other side). Here, we see the entire grisly tale from beginning to end, from the murders of three young boys in West Memphis, Ark., to the trials and incarcerations of Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin, to their eventual release.

All the famous people who supported the three pop up, including Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines and Peter Jackson. And though the filmmakers try to pin the killings on another person, it doesn’t quite work.

What does work are the movie’s smaller moments, such as the surprise on Baldwin’s face when he eats a Caesar salad for the first time and realizes there’s cheese in it.

WEST OF MEMPHIS
Directed by Amy J Berg
With Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin
UA DeVargas Center 6
147 min.
R

 

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