Friday, March 4, 2016

Making a Murderer - Netflix Documentary (2015)

For those who like legal dramas... THIS is the real deal!

Making a Murderer is a documentary filmed over the course of 10 years. The directors did a great job of keeping the audience intrigued while they remained impartial. I am aware of the objections from both sides criticizing the directors, but this by itself could be an indication that they remained objective and didn't take sides.

The focus of the story is on Steven Avery - a native of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, who subscribes to every stereotype that you might have in your mind. Besides the stereotypical behaviour, his cognitive faculties are considerably less developed compared to an average person. These negative biases cost him 18 years in jail due to a wrongful conviction. But as the title of the series suggests, those years might have made a murderer out of him...

Following his exoneration and release in 2003, he sued the sheriff's office for $36 million for damages. While in litigation, he was arrested again as the prime suspect of a homicide... I hope I'm not spoiling this, as most have already heard from the news that he is still in prison, and president Obama responded to a petition for his release by stating that it was a state matter...

The setting of Making a Murderer is really similar to a John Grisham novel, but of course more suspenseful - the filmmakers do a masterful job of keeping you by the edge of your seat throughout the 10 hour documentary. I felt like I was a juror and my verdict (of guilty or not guilty) changed multiple times while listening to the arguments of state vs. defence. The district attorney was a bit of sleaze ball (look up his scandals in recent years), but he presented seriously incriminating evidence. The defence attorneys, however, did an amazing job infusing reasonable doubt in my mind. Had this trial been held in California (similar to O. J. Simpson's case), most probably Avery would have been acquitted. Courtroom drama aside, this series is an interesting and thought-provoking commentary on the US legal system. For all these reasons, it was a 10/10 for me!

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