An American Crime

2007

Biography / Crime / Drama / Horror

32
IMDb Rating 7.3 10 31,788

Synopsis


Downloaded times
October 12, 2020

Director

Cast

Ellen Page as Sylvia Likens
Evan Peters as Ricky Hobbs
James Franco as Andy
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
896.41 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
98 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.8 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
98 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lastliberal 8 / 10 / 10

I thought we were just teaching her.

While everyone was watching Juno, Ellen Page was making a much more important film. Those who do not have a background in child abuse, will find this very disturbing. It is a horror film that displays what goes on all over America, and is not always noticed, or, if noticed, is not always reported. The film stars Catherine Keener as a mother that is overwhelmed by the fact that she has a half dozen kids to feed and little money coming in. He husband is not providing support, and neither is the father of her last child. Have to supervise her brood with a drug problem (albiet a legal one), is overwhelming. When she is unable to handle the fact that her eldest is getting out of control and following in her footsteps, she selects one of the girls she is caring for to scapegoat. In other words, this girl (Ellen Page) will bear the scars and marks that she can't place on her own children. She shifts the blame from her and her children to Sylvia. Sylvia soon becomes the target of all the neighborhood children, believing that they are "teaching her" to be good. The adults in the neighborhood hear the screams coming from the house as she is burned with cigarettes and branded with a hot wire, and turn the other way. It is a hard film to watch, even for those of us who have seen the results many times. For those not exposed to this stain on America, it can be very traumatic. Be forewarned.

Reviewed by Phantasm01 7 / 10 / 10

A very important film that shouldn't be ignored

Not many films make me feel sick to my stomach and not many make me feel such a profound sadness that I'm helpless to do anything but cry. An American Crime chronicles the startling and horrific events that led to the death of sixteen year old Sylvia Likens. The story we're told comes directly from the court transcripts in the case of Baniszewski vs. The State of Indiana. As the story unfolds we slowly spiral from a normal, small town world populated with youthful innocence to one of absolute and inexplicable horror. The story of the events that led up to Likens' death is short and tragic, with many people to fault, including her own parents and sister. Her parents negligently entrusted her and her little sister's care to a woman they had only met once. This woman, Gertrude Baniszewski, was mother to a brood of children and accepted Sylvia and her sister into her home for the simple fact that she needed the money the Likens were offering. But Baniszewski wan't fit to care for the Likens' daughters and within a few months, Sylvia had become the victim of Gertrude's escalating abuse. Sylvia eventually became a prisoner in Baniszewski's basement for an excruciating 27 days, where she was abused and tortured by Baniszewski, her children and also a number of other neighborhood children. How could this have happened? How could so many people be involved in such a horrible crime? How could her own sister not have gone to the police before it was too late? After Sylvia died as a result of her beatings, Baniszewski's was found guilty of her crimes and sentenced to life in prison. Her children and the others involved were also found guilty and sentenced, each one eventually serving two years in prison. While Baniszewski's crimes are unforgivable, the thing I personally found most disturbing was how her example led to her children's and the other children's acts of cold, cruel, brutality. The world we are introduced to in AAC is not sensational, on the contrary, it is simple, ordinary, common and comfortable. The production design and cinematography work in harmony, lulling the viewer into believing they are witness to a more innocent time and place and as the story builds the Norman Rockwell veneer slowly begins to chip away until it is displaced by a world of suffocating doom. The resulting effect is that AAC gets under our skin and disturbs us in a profound way since these crimes could have been committed in our neighborhood, by our neighbors and possibly by people we knew and trusted. Most disturbing of all is the realization these crimes could have involved us. It would be easy to demonize Baniszewski and all the others involved in Likens death, but writer/director Tommy O'Haver chooses to humanize them instead. In doing so their horrible acts of abuse and torture linger and beg the recurring question: how could they have done this? When we see the faces of the children in court, we don't see the faces of psychopaths, we see innocent children with no explanation for their actions. Only Baniszewski herself comes across as a detached, delusional and remorseless criminal and Catherine Keener has to be applauded for somehow managing to add complexity and insight to someone guilty of such crimes. Keener's subtle performance aside, the standout in this movie is Ellen Page who breaks our heart when we watch her stripped of her innocence. Before AAC, Page drew raves for her performances in Hard Candy and Juno. In both those films she played a precocious, smart assed hipster who had the world on the tip of her little finger. Here Page plays Likens as a sensitive, kind and considerate sixteen year old and when the world comes crashing down upon her, the suffering she endures is heartbreaking and convincingly rendered by Page. I'm sure few will agree with me, but Page's breakthrough performance isn't in Juno, it's in An American Crime.

Reviewed by alanmora 7 / 10 / 10

A harrowing and baffling account of an unimaginable crime

I have been waiting to see this film for over a year now because this is a case that has haunted me for years and I am very familiarized with the facts of the case. I finally got to see it's USA premiere on Showtime tonight. I was of course, like everyone else, blown away by Catherine Keener and Ellen Page's performance and was quite impressed with the caliber of talent in the entire cast. Everyone seemed to play off of each other very well and all seemed to handle the extremely difficult subject matter very maturely. There were just a few things that baffled me about the film: Firstly, the soundtrack. Now I do understand that this was a 'period' piece set in the 1960's and that music from the 60's is appropriate but to me it is much more impactful to have no music at all, especially during some of the more hard to watch torture scenes. Some of the music did not seem to match what was going on on screen. The other thing that baffled me was the 'dream sequence' toward the end that showed Sylvia actually escaping and reaching her parents and one of her torturers was helping her to escape. Yes I realize that this scene was added for more dramatic purposes and it was effective when it turned out to be an out-of-body experience for Sylvia but I really think they could have done without this scene and dealt more closely with the actual facts of this case. Also, it seemed to me that the director was trying to portray Gertrude and Paula Baniszewski as almost sympathetic characters when in reality they were monstrous in their actions and merciless with their sadistic torment of this young woman. For example, Paula did hurt her hand while punching Sylvia and had to put it in a cast but in reality it did not end there because Paula used her cast to further beat Sylvia. Paula did not defend Sylvia against her mother and was in fact, in some ways, even more callous than her mother. An example of this would be the scalding baths that they gave Sylvia, which was not touched on in the film, but after these baths Paula rubbed salt into Sylvia's wounds. Gertrude was much more active in the torture in reality and she showed absolutely no remorse or even recognition for her actions until many years later at her parole hearing when she was finally released. The only person who actually did show even the slightest bit of mercy towards Sylvia during her ordeal was Stephanie, a fact that is not touched on in the film. I can certainly understand why the producers would choose to leave out certain specifics of the tortures that Sylvia endured because they do not feel that an audience would believe it however, if you are going to make a film like this I believe it is essential to let the viewers know the full extent of the torture she endured. Viewers need to know that after the 'church dinner' that is shown in the film Sylvia was forced to eat a hot dog with everything on it and consume her own vomit because Gertrude thought that she made a pig of herself at the picnic and NOT because she met a boy at the picnic as the film portrays. Certain specifics of the Baniszewski's everyday life were also omitted. I believe these are important elements to the case. If you are going to try to portray Gertrude as some sort of desperate housewife who was stricken by poverty and caved in to her own inner fury than the viewers need to see that the Baniszewski household had no phone, no stove (just a hot plate), and that it's kitchen drawers had only 1 spoon. Also, a vital example of just what sort of person Gertrude is would be to let the viewers know that, while the children slept on dirty, urine soaked mattresses (and there were not enough of these for all of the occupants in the home) Gertrude had a complete bedroom set in her room. Ordinarily I would not stress these facts so heavily but the producers of this film would like to lead the viewer to believe that it is based entirely on fact and they stress that with a disclaimer at the beginning of the film and while I do realize that for dramatic purposes certain things had to be added and deleted it should not dilute the fact that a young woman was murdered in a cold, calculating, maniacal manner the likes of which had never been heard of before and that there is absolutely no room for sympathy for her torturers especially Gertrude and Paula. Regardless of these facts, I personally feel that films like this are vital viewing because they touch on subject matters that people generally do not talk about. If more people talked about them perhaps a life could have been spared here. Kudos to the director for taking on this subject matter and to Keener, Page and the rest of the cast for having the courage to take on such a horrific topic.

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