Boston Strangler parents guide

Boston Strangler Parent Guide

The story is interesting and the acting good but the film has a hard time maintaining its focus and tension.

Overall C-

Hulu: Loretta McLaughlin is the first journalist to connect a series of murders to the Boston Strangler. Up against the sexism of her time, she'll put her own life at risk to uncover the truth.

Release date March 17, 2023

Violence C-
Sexual Content C
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is Boston Strangler rated R? The MPAA rated Boston Strangler R for some violent content and language.

Run Time: 112 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) has been stuck writing articles about fashion and reviewing housewares for Boston’s Record American newspaper, but that’s about to change. A series of horrifying murders have taken place across the city, leaving several women dead – all of whom were strangled with a silk stocking that was then tied in a bow around their necks.

Concerned by the seemingly lackadaisical police response to the violence, Loretta petitions her editor, Jack Maclaine (Chris Cooper), to put her on the story. The 1960’s aren’t a golden age for female reporters, and Jack is reluctant to assign a young woman to a crime story. Eventually he relents - on the condition that she partner up with a more experienced reporter: Jean Cole (Carrie Coon).

As more women are killed, the female reporters become increasingly frustrated with the dismal ineffectuality of local law enforcement and begin hunting for suspects themselves. Although they manage to find some likely candidates, it seems like each one has an excuse or an alibi which precludes their involvement. It’s going to take more than that to deter these journalists, and they’re confident that they will find a man who can’t explain away his connection to the crimes. They just have to hope that, when they find him, they can convince the police to listen to a couple of female reporters.

As films about violent serial murder go, Boston Strangler is pretty tame. There are no on-screen strangulation scenes, but we do hear murders off-screen and crime scene photos show obvious signs of violence. The only murder actually depicted on screen is a prison stabbing. There’s also less profanity than you might expect, although the handful of sexual expletives is still enough to earn an “R” rating. Glossing over some of the realities of the crimes makes for more comfortable viewing, but I think the script conceals too much of the killer’s activities. Without that kind of immediacy, the crimes lose some of their urgency and this makes the investigation feel slower and less dramatic. Knightley and Coon both turn in solid performances, but the film’s desire to highlight the difficulties of being a female journalist frequently overshadows the violent murder spree taking place in the background. This scatters the movie’s focus and I can’t help but feel that the filmmakers are burying the lede here.

I’m also not a fan of the liberties this script has taken with the historical accounts, moving dates and characters around to suit their story rather than making a story out of the alleged facts. And, without spoiling anything, I found the solution offered by the protagonists to be unlikely. The film has an interesting premise and a good cast, but at the end of the day, it needs more to remain exciting and compelling.

Directed by Matt Ruskin. Starring Keira Knightley, Carrie Coon, Chris Cooper. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release March 17, 2023. Updated

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Boston Strangler
Rating & Content Info

Why is Boston Strangler rated R? Boston Strangler is rated R by the MPAA for some violent content and language.

Violence: Death by strangulation is a repeated plot point. Several bodies are seen with obvious injury. Sounds of violence are heard through walls without visual. A man is repeatedly stabbed with an improvised blade.
Sexual Content: Crime scene photos are seen depicting bodies in varying states of undress without graphic nudity. There are references to sexual violence and adultery.
Profanity: There are four sexual expletives, eight scatological terms, and infrequent uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially and smoking tobacco.

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Another film which puts journalists on the trail of a real serial killer is Zodiac. Keira Knightley gets into trouble with reporters in Official Secrets. Other films about journalists chasing down hard stories include Spotlight, The Post, She Said, and State of Play.