Friday, January 22, 2016

John Ridley's American Crime : Preparing for the Storm

 RECAP:  Frustrated with the stonewalling of Leyland school headmistress Leslie Graham,  Anne Blaine goes first to the police and then to the newspapers.
She’s announced to anyone who would listen that her son was raped at a party celebrating the basketball team’s success. The party was hosted by Kevin LacCroix, a black teenager from a wealthy family.
Headmistress Leslie Graham is worried more about the reputation of the prestigious private school than she is for Taylor Blaine, the alleged victim of sexual assault. Class privilege, sexual identity, and race are all part of the combustible mix of ingredients that form the basis for the series drama “American Crime.”


EPISODE 3:  The Times-Herald newspaper has sent a reporter to get the story about the alleged sexual assault of Taylor Blaine at the exclusive Leyland private school. Taylor’s mom tells the reporter she doesn’t want her kid’s name in the news so the reporter must work around that limitation. There are major problems at the LaCroix house when Kevin LaCroix, age 18, is mentioned in the story.  Kevin’s enraged dad stops short of throttling Kevin who insists he had nothing to do with whatever really happened to Taylor Blaine.
The Times-Herald reporter goes to the headmistress to get the school’s  version.  Leslie tells the reporter she took action to suspend team co-captain Eric, and then engages in a bit of victim blaming. The kid (Taylor Blaine) had no business binge-drinking, she says.
One of the many things contributing to the popularity of the series is the clever way it’s presented. Lots of in-your-face close-ups, foreboding off-screen voices, jarring camera shots all contribute to a feeling of audience unease. This kind of cinematography can sometimes wreck a film or make it seem pretentious, but here the austere documentary style is consistent and works to advantage.  Whoever’s directing the camerawork has the right intuition, knowing when to pull back as well as when to put you up close.  It’s all very uncomfortable, of course, just as things can be in real life.
To read the entire review, click here.

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