“The Boston Strangler”: a great story approached with little depth | REVIEW

Annoyed that in the Wellness section of Record American, the newspaper where she has worked for some time, she does nothing but review toasters, the journalist Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) has a bold outburst and asks her editor, Jack Maclaine (Chris Cooper) , let him inquire about a grim statistic: three murders of women in the last two weeks.

It’s time for some context. We are in the first half of the sixties in the United States. Loretta works at an emblematic Boston newspaper whose essence is not only to compete for scoops, but also to do so with predominantly male teams. Along these lines, the newsroom that serves as our stage has more shirts than long skirts making their way between desks, cigarette smoke, and typewriters.

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So far we have described the beginning of “The Boston Strangler”, the new film that has just been released on the Star Plus platform. It is a thriller directed by Matt Ruskin that is based on the search for Albert DeSalvo, a serial killer allegedly responsible for the crimes of at least 13 women between June 1962 and January 1964.

If Jack is initially reluctant to let Loretta dabble in a subject like female homicides (“That’s three strangers,” “I’ve got six men working on it”), things quickly turn around when Loretta tells him what it looks like. be a magical phrase: “I’ll do it in my free time.” It is at this moment that the life of our protagonist begins to take a 180 degree turn.

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In addition to showing her as a maverick editor of the Wellness section, Matt Ruskin’s film profiles Loretta as a wife and mother of a family. As her new investigative role gains traction, her spouse, James McLaughlin (Morgan Spector), seems extremely sympathetic towards her. He waits for her until late, he attends to her children and takes them to school every time she is late looking for evidence and witnesses.

It is the eminently journalistic work that occupies the second part of “The Boston Strangler”. Loretta, then, begins to display a series of techniques that allow her to deliver a first report to his superior boss. The joy of signing a cover story, however, quickly fades when local authorities begin to distort the information, pointing out that the reporter got it by “flirting with the police.”

Scene from the movie “The Boston Strangler” by Star Plus.

Although using the elements of a thriller, Ruskin’s film could have a safe path, there is a more social and political side that appears from time to time. Loretta must face not only sources that are reluctant to give her information, but also colleagues who, between jokes, seem to despise her desire to be considered ‘one more on the team’.

After the aforementioned pressure from the authorities, Jack – in charge of a poorly exploited Chris Cooper – chooses to assign Loretta a partner. This is Jean Cole (Carrie Con), a more experienced journalist who has managed to successfully open a space between sexism and the other complications that this small universe called Record American harbors.

movie scene "The Boston Strangler" (Hulu)

Scene from the movie “The Boston Strangler” (Hulu)

From the visual and scenographic, “The Boston Strangler” presents a well-cared proposal. Ruskin seems to have succeeded in his attempt to portray a Boston of the sixties, and to do so, he uses aerial shots, old buildings, extremely dim lights and collector cars. The same is true of period clothing, the presence of elements such as powerful cameras, voice recorders (huge and with tape), and the already mentioned typewriters.

Another very well achieved element in this audiovisual proposal has to do with everything that concerns journalistic work. Search for sources, interrogate them, contrast, go to the place of the facts, write, correct and, finally, publish. The sequence presented always looks convincing to us. There is also, although to a lesser extent, some luck and a journalistic sixth sense.

But if our protagonist takes firm steps at work, personally things are not going so well. Perhaps here we find one of the main shortcomings of the story. Loretta – less and less present at home – begins to lose the support of her husband. The day he informs her that he has been promoted at her job, she barely pays attention to him. “My sister was right, you are a…!” James yells, hitting the table helplessly.

movie scene "The Boston Strangler" by StarPlus

Scene from the movie “The Boston Strangler” by Star Plus

That dilemma that arises between advancing as a journalist and releasing the accelerator at home is an interesting vein that, however, is not sufficiently exploited by Ruskin. The husband’s appearances are intermittent and reflect a very light attempt to delve into the human side of journalists.

Contrary to this, we can say that there is an attempt to show all the risks to which Loretta was exposed during her search for the culprit of the rapes and subsequent murders in Boston. Seeing her receiving calls at home that no one answers in the end, or watching the rearview mirror of her car to rule out that no one follows her, are situations that add up.

Above these crimes, there is something floating in the air throughout the almost two hours that this film lasts: the desire to warn about the danger that women face in an insecure city. “DeSalvo is not the first murderer of women, nor will he be the last,” they tell Loretta in a chat that, unfortunately, has not lost much historical relevance.

As we have tried to make clear in this note, “The Boston Strangler” has a clear idea: to introduce us to two reporters who make their way in a sexist industry from the middle of the last century and do it not with a minor challenge, but by finding the identity of the person responsible for a wave of rapes and crimes that rocked Boston. Although the story is interesting, it is in its execution -at times so unambitious and flat- where the final evaluation is noticeably affected.

1679165922 100 The Boston Strangler a great story approached with little depth


Director: Matt Ruskin

Cast: Keira Knightley, Carrie Coon, Chris Cooper

Synopsis: Loretta McLaughlin the first female reporter to link the Boston Strangler murders and break her story. She and Jean Cole defied ’70s sexism to report on the city’s most notorious serial killer.

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“The Boston Strangler”: a great story approached with little depth | REVIEW