On the eve of Mother’s Day, I have just made the mistake of watching a new movie on Showtime called “An American Crime”. I feel emotionally battered and spiritually defiled, but perhaps I can spare someone else from making the same mistake.
The movie is based on a true story. In 1965, a mother of 7 in Indiana took in two young girls as boarders. One of the girls became the focus of the woman’s demented rage, and ended up being tortured to death.
This plot seems timely, given the news from Austria, but there is nothing to be gained from this film, in terms of understanding the forces that can pervert human behavior.
The worst thing is that according to the film and factual accounts of the crime, a group of children took part in torturing the girl. It became an after-school sport to visit the basement and abuse this helpless, broken teenager.
I want to know why ordinary children would do this. I want to know why a filmmaker would chronicle this abuse without offering any insight or consolation. I want to know what the actors were thinking when they took on this project. And I want to be warned before a film this thanklessly brutal appears in my living room.
I could have stopped watching, but I was desperate for catharsis. I felt certain that there would be a payoff of some kind. Silly me. The use of torture as entertainment has no obligation other than financial profit.
If you ever suspect a case of child abuse, don’t hesitate to report it. It won’t matter if you’re wrong, at least you’ll know you tried to help. Look out for each other. And beware of this fucking movie, no matter how much you like Ellen Page.