'Boston Strangler' movie review: An efficient retelling
Boston Strangler, is based on a true story, and follows Boston Record American reporter Loretta Mclaughlin (an effective Keira Knightley) on her investigation of serial killings.
Published: 02nd April 2023 05:00 AM | Last Updated: 01st April 2023 03:06 PM | A+A A-
Wonder why journalism-based films are largely set in the 60s and 70s? Is it because the press of today is polarising? Or, has PR-centric reporting taken the sheen out of one of the most revered professions in the world? Hotstar’s latest film, Boston Strangler, is based on a true story, and follows Boston Record American reporter Loretta Mclaughlin (an effective Keira Knightley) on her investigation of serial killings as she identifies a pattern with the rapes and murders of elderly women in the area.
With able support from fellow reporter Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) and a practical boss Jack McLAine (Chris Cooper), Loretta digs deeper only to find herself at loggerheads with the system, and eventually, her people at home. The film can be proud of getting the details right, but the unwavering focus on the minutiae takes away from the emergency and danger. Barring a couple of scenes involving hundreds of readers reaching out to the journalists and single women trying to be cautious, there is never really a sense of the ‘Boston strangler’ in this film.
It is understandable that the makers decided to train all their attention on the journalistic side of things, but with the grisly crimes at the centre, the deliberate pacing does create some impatience. The details about Boston police botching the investigation to ensure panic doesn’t set in, isn’t fleshed out enough either. As for the good ol’ fight between righteous journalists and a corrupt system, it lacks the necessary gravitas.
What Boston Strangler does get right though is the impact of true-blue journalism on interpersonal relationships. In its documentation of the way of life at the time, it exposes a phase in the history of journalism when sexism was rampant in the workplace—when women weren’t given ‘serious’ stories, were expected to prioritise running a home over an office, and when they refused to fall in line, were judged. We see Loretta’s husband, who is initially supportive of her ambitions, become grumpy later. It’s the same with Jean’s partner.
As the end credits roll, we understand the extent of the travesty that happened in the actual investigation. The biggest takeaway, however, is the friendship that develops between Loretta and Jean, who tried their best to move up in a world where the odds were stacked against them, making one wonder if much has really changed for women at work.