An American Crime

  • Network: Showtime
  • Series Premiere Date: May 10, 2008
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 4 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4

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User Reviews

  1. Sep 29, 2013
    7
    In 1965, Gertrude Baniszewski, a single mother of six was asked to watch a friend children for the summer. Needing the money, Baniszewski, a mentally unstable woman, agreed but quickly decided that one of the girls, Sylvia, was a bad influence on her family. She locked Sylvia in the basement and for weeks allowed her kids and their friends to beat and rape the girl, until she finally diedIn 1965, Gertrude Baniszewski, a single mother of six was asked to watch a friend children for the summer. Needing the money, Baniszewski, a mentally unstable woman, agreed but quickly decided that one of the girls, Sylvia, was a bad influence on her family. She locked Sylvia in the basement and for weeks allowed her kids and their friends to beat and rape the girl, until she finally died a month later. Baniszewski was convicted of murder and sentenced to life, but only served 14 years before being paroled. The details of the story were vividly described in Jack Ketchum's novel, The Girl Next Door, which was turned into a movie, in 2007. The film depiction of the book was wildly inaccurate and to be honest, just plain bad. Shortly after, another film was made, An American Crime. This film focuses on the case and tells the story through testimonial flashbacks, that are taken directly from the trial transcripts. This film was much better than The Girl Next Door was. As someone who has read the book and is familiar with the story, I can tell you, it was much more accurate. The story is well known and the film didn't offer up any surprises for me. The most interesting aspect for me was the cast. An American Crime features a ton of young Hollywood talent, most of whom got their big break in this film, and went on to bigger and better things. The film features the likes of Ellen Page, James Franco, Jeremy Sumpter, Evan Peters, Michael Welch, and a ton of other people who went on to much bigger roles. What was really interesting was seeing all this talent right at the very start of their careers. Knowing the details and knowing what was going to happen, I focused more on the performances than the film. Catherine Keener plays Gertrude and how she didn't win an award for the portrayal is beyond me. Keener was terrific in a very difficult role. She was probably one of the only people who could have pulled it off. Sylvia was played by Ellen Page, who of course later went on to become Juno. She was equally good, especially when you consider that she'd done almost nothing prior to taking this role. The story told in An American Crime is not for those with a weak stomach, it is violent and unbelievable, but it happened, and I'm glad that a second filmmaker took on the task of honoring Sylvia's memory by telling her story accurately, while at the same time giving a young cast the chance to prove themselves. Expand

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