Above Suspicion Parent Guide
Sloppy history is only one of the problems with this supposedly historical cop film.
Parent Movie Review
Pikeville, Kentucky, is not exactly a metropolitan hub bubbling with excitement. A sleepy town in Appalachia, the two primary sources of income are funerals and drug deals. Susan Smith (Emilia Clarke) is involved in the latter. She lives with her ex-husband, Cash (Johnny Knoxville), who makes enough money selling cocaine, weed, and Percocet to keep her and her children living in a trailer. But when FBI agent Mark Putnam (Jack Huston) arrives in town to investigate a series of bank robberies, Susan is entranced. Although Putnam has a wife (Sophie Lowe) and children, Susan is set on having him. It won’t be easy: the only way to get close to him is to become an informant, and snitching is a dangerous business… but it has its rewards.
I suppose I should start by addressing the fact that this film is based on the true story of Susan Smith. Those familiar with the story (or who have five minutes to read a stubby Wikipedia article on the subject) will be aware that this story does not have a particularly happy ending, but that’s apparent from the plot synopsis. Unfortunately, historical interpretation is at the root of my issues with this movie, so if you’re planning to watch this and don’t want spoilers, you should stop here.
For those of you still reading, this movie ends with Susan’s murder at the hands of Putnam. Although the film shows him owning up to his misdeeds, reality is murkier. Brought in as a “person of interest” Putnam failed the polygraph test and decided it was in his interest to cooperate with the investigators. Reality does not make him out to be nearly as conspicuously moral about his crime as this production does. Moreover, the movie suggests that his wife tried to prevent him from confessing. I find it deeply troubling that the filmmakers have chosen to vilify this poor woman, a real person, who is no longer alive to speak up in her own defense.
If you haven’t already guessed, Above Suspicion is not a good choice for younger audiences. The plot centers on an adulterous affair, with violent crime and heavy drug use sprinkled throughout. Even older audiences may not find this particularly palatable. Content aside, the production quality is better than I feared, given the genre. Emilia Clarke’s accent, while imperfect, still clearly represents some remarkable work on her part – although I expect that her career has made her somewhat familiar with the difficulties of language and accent work. Of particular note is Johnny Knoxville’s performance, which is surprisingly subtle for a man who has made a career as, quite literally, a professional Jackass. Cinematic qualities notwithstanding, I don’t think this is either a particularly diverting entertainment, or an edifying biographical film. Basically, I don’t know who this film was made for, but it’s certainly not me.Directed by Phillip Noyce. Starring Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston, and Sophie Lowe. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release March 16, 2021. Updated March 18, 2021
Rating & Content Info
Why is Above Suspicion rated R? Above Suspicion is rated R by the MPAA for sexual content and drug use throughout, language and some strong violence.
Violence: There are several instances of severe physical violence including beatings, bar fights, and a fatal choking. Several individuals are shot, and some of them are killed. Other incidents include scenes of domestic abuse, people being threatened with weapons, and individuals being set on fire while trying to commit arson.
Sexual Content: There are several instances of graphic sexual dialogue. Two adults are shown having adulterous sex several times, although no nudity is seen.
Profanity: There are 30 uses of extreme profanity and 14 uses of scatological cursing. There are also frequent mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown using a variety of illegal drugs, primarily cocaine, marijuana, and prescription opiates. Adults are also shown drinking and smoking heavily. Many are depicted as being addicted to these substances.
Page last updated March 18, 2021
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Another recently released crime thriller is The Little Things, which sees Denzel Washington and Remi Malek attempt to solve a series of serial murders. If you’re interested in crime films based on true stories, options include Foxcatcher, Catch Me If You Can, and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. If you’re looking for films about informants, you might try The Informer, The Informant, Black Mass, or another Scorsese classic, The Departed.