Sunday, October 5, 2008
This was a real interesting one to watch, because it was based on the same true story as The Girl Next Door, about a particularly horrific case of child abuse. That one was sort of the exploitation/horror movie version, and this is sort of the A-list, artsy version.
Well, I have to give it to American Crime in terms of acting and cinematography. The cast includes Catherine Keener, Ellen Page and James Franco, so obviously it's strong on that front, and it has an effective aesthetic quality that the flatly shot Girl Next Door lacked. But, in all honesty, the two movies came closer to a tie for me. Maybe Girl Next Door was less factual and more exploitative, but it was also more effectively disturbing, at least in part due to it's willingness to wallow in the ugly details. An American Crime is a classier movie, but it holds a lot back. Since I can't see much of a point to this story except to be disturbing, that's a clear disadvantage. AAC creeps you out a bit. GND gets under your skin.
So maybe what I'm saying is that this was a better made film, but the other one was more effective. Both, to me, didn't seem to have much of a point or insight on the material, they were more a sad, shocked look at a very ugly story. Since their perspectives are similar, I can only comment that one was better in a technical sense, and one was better in a gut-reaction sense.