The Interrogation of Michael Crowe (2002)
The Crowe Coercion
Before I review "The Interrogation of Michael Crowe" I need to say I have a general fascination with TV movies especially those based on true stories and as such over the years have come to understand various things. Firstly it is hard to balance being a factual dramatization of the story and being entertaining and secondly often these true stories tell it from only one viewpoint. That brings me to "The Interrogation of Michael Crowe" an entertaining and disturbingly intense experience which raises up anger deep within your soul but also a movie which you have to remember is one sided, not something which is easy to do because it is so effective in angering you.
When Stephen Crowe (Michael Riley - Willed to Kill) goes to wake up his daughter Stephanie (Anna Mary Wilson) he finds her murdered in her bed. As the police arrive they separate the family Stephen, Cheryl (Ally Sheedy - Ultimate Betrayal) and their other children Michael (Mark Rendall - 30 Days of Night) and Shannon (Hannah Lochner) for questioning. As they do so they notice that Michael re-acts differently to everyone else at the news of his sister's murder and start interrogating him despite being only 14 and not informing his parents of the fact. After two days of intense, relentless questioning as they keep on telling him he did it Michael in an exhausted, emotional state confesses saying that it is a lie but he did it. When his parents discover what has happened to Michael they find an attorney who believes Michael is innocent and has been pushed to confess to a murder he never committed.
Taken as a movie which half wants to entertain "The Interrogation of Michael Crowe" is a success, it is an intense experience which draws you in to the story of Michael Crowe and never let's go. It does this in two ways starting with the unsettling questioning of the police as they interrogate 14 year old Michael to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion constantly telling him that he killed his sister and can't remember. It is disturbing to watch and Mark Rendall as Michael delivers a knock out performance not just during these scenes but through out the entire movie. It then switches things as we watch his parents dealing with the sickening truth of what the police put Michael through and their attempts to clear his name. All of which is highly effective and riles up an anger deep inside as we watch the upset Michael put through what borders close on torture as the police get in his face till he doesn't know what is what anymore.
But then there is the true story side of things and this is where the waters become mudded as whilst I don't know the true story it is obvious that "The Interrogation of Michael Crowe" is a one sided account of what happened. Now I say that not out of judgement on the true story and injustice but in the fact we never really see the police side of things, why they were so convinced of Michael's guilt. We also see how the police seem to brush away other evidence as they appear to set their sights on charging Michael and his friends. It means that the police come across not as incompetent but as malicious in their attempts to coerce Michael into confessing and whilst maybe they did coerce Michael under intense pressure I am sure that this side has been embellished to create an emotional response in the audience.
What this all boils down to is that "The Interrogation of Michael Crowe" is a better made for TV movie than normal and it does a good job of creating a feeling in the audience. But it is a movie which tells the true story from one side and that needs to be remembered.
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