There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Kurt Kuenne’s documentary is your typical girl-meets-boy, girl-murders-boy, girl- births-and-raises-boy’s-child-as-his-parents-endure-the-long-legal-process-of-extraditing-her-back-to-the-United States-to-stand-trial story. Kuenne, a childhood friend of the murder victim, Andrew Bagley, got a fascinating amount of access to this bizarre fringe of human suffering. But the film’s treatment, from silly Monty Python-esque talking heads to fright music overlaid on footage of the murderer, can give the feel of a novice rushing to use all his film-school tricks at once. Kuenne would have done better to let the incredible story tell itself. But the director’s history with the subject—the pair’s over-the-top childhood time-travel films are a highlight—helps the film rise above a Court TV handling into an emotional living memory of the victim. Kuenne, who also narrates, frames the film as his personal journey to show Bagley’ son the father he never knew. But at the film’s final twist, Kuenne reveals himself as much manipulative filmmaker as grieving friend. The real centers of the film are Bagley’s parents, who, after briefly considering suicide, endure the string of horrific events with a Zen-like tenacity that’s as jaw-dropping as the sensational crime. —AH