[Mini Review] An American Crime (2007)

This is quite possibly one of the more disturbing and heart breaking films you are likely to see. Based on the real events (They based a lot of it on the actual trial transcripts) of Sylvia, a young girl sent to live with a family who end up torturing her. The prosecutor of the actual case has stated that it was the most terrible crime committed in the State of Indiana, and I have to say you can’t seem to argue that point.

The film stars Catherine Keener (Who was reluctant to take on the role) as Gertrude Baniszewski the housewife who took in Sylvia and her sister and ‘punishes’ Sylvia. Sylvia is played by Ellen Page, I think the look and innocence of Page just makes the viewing all that much more difficult when you see all the suffering she goes through. Both put on such strong and amazing performances, lesser actors I don’t think could have done this.

As I had already read a lot about the actual case, I knew what to expect, and it is actually tonned down a bit, but watching it unfold isn’t easy to watch and it is rather disturbing, knowing it really happened and that there are people like this out there. The film (and novel) The Girl Next Door is based on this true story, and is quite similar, although that is more graphic, and it is just as strong and disturbing as this. Not for the faint of heart, but if you can manage it, I’d highly recommend this film.


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