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"This," said Prosecutor Leroy New, "has been the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana;" the first crime of child abuse that broke through reticence and denial to register with the public. In Tommy O'Haver's heartbreaking and hard-hitting film, AN AMERICAN CRIME, Academy Award ® nominee Catherine Keener portrays Gertrude Baniszewski, the seemingly ordinary housewife who imprisons and tortures a beautiful teenager, played by Academy Award ® nominee Ellen Page, in the basement of her house - two portrayals that will resonate with audiences long after they leave the theatre. AN AMERICAN CRIME also stars James Franco and Bradley Whitford.
An extended sleepover turns tragic for two sisters in this fact-based tele-film. After their carnival worker parents separate, Sylvia (Juno's Ellen Page) and Jennie Fae Likens (Hayley McFarland) move in with Gertrude "Gertie" Baniszewski (Emmy nominee Catherine Keener), a divorced Indianapolis mother with seven children (six in the screenplay). The kids get along, so the Likens figure Gertie will offer a safe haven until they return. Little do they realize she has a substance-abuse problem, a history of mental illness, and a layabout lover (James Franco). Even with the money the Likens send and the washing she takes in, Gertie can't make ends meet, so she takes her frustration out on her boarders. Since Jennie has polio, Sylvia bears the brunt of her anger: beatings, cigarette burns, and worse. Then when Sylvia tries to protect Paula (Nick and Norah's Ari Graynor) from an abusive boyfriend, Paula turns against her, too (Sylvia tells him about Paula's pregnancy). Like dominoes, the rest of the extended family falls in line. Three months later, their torture culminates in murder. Throughout, the narrative alternates between 1965 and the ensuing court case, in which prosecutor Leroy K. New (The West Wing's Bradley Whitford) cross-examines witnesses and defendants, whose testimony comes from the original transcripts. If An American Crime, which aired on Showtime, makes for difficult viewing, former Indianapolis resident Tommy O'Haver (Ella Enchanted) renders a salacious story as tactfully as possible, and his cast is always convincing--painfully so in the case of Ms. Keener. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
It is horrifying that this actually happened!! It ripped my heart out! I have no sympathy for any of the parties involved in the torture, no matter what their ages!!!! Read morePublished 7 days ago by Lou Ann Price
Better then what I thought , was really based on the real story, Girl went through so much pain.Published 16 days ago by Sharon
I love this movie. The actors are top-rate and the story is disturbing.Published 27 days ago by cinderbean
Excellent movie! Really sad, gets you angry at times the actors did a good portrayal. It it is sickening how someone actually committed this crimePublished 1 month ago by Ana Reyes
The movie was OK, but I just prefer to use my free time on a more lighter and nicer subjects. I know that what was presented on the movie, could or was truth and I feel sorrow for... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sandra B
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|"An American Crime"--- escape scene.... confused.....||
I feel the same way. It was stupid. I too wish they had stuck to the real story.
Jul 14, 2013 by Andy's Lady Starlight | See all 6 posts
House of Evil by John Dean is the most accurate . You can always read Avenger of Blood Genesis the graphic novel at WWW.avengerodbloodgenesis.com. it's fictionized somewhat but I've made the account of the Sylvia as close to actuality as possible.
May 16, 2011 by Avenger of Blood | See all 2 posts
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