6 decades later, Boston Strangler’s story is as compelling as ever

April 6, 2023

By Bethany Negron
Staff Writer

The true crime thriller “Boston Strangler,” which premiered on Hulu on March 17, is a must-watch movie that merges the crime fiction, drama, mystery and thriller genres. This suspenseful film will leave you shocked and experiencing a range of emotions, particularly because the actors do such a convincing job in their roles.

The name of the film comes from the term given to the murderer of 13 women in Greater Boston during the early 1960s. Albert DeSalvo (David Dastmalchian) confessed to the murders in the mid-1960s while serving a sentence at Bridgewater State Prison for a separate string of crimes, including burglaries and sexual assault against four women. Although it is not included in the film, DeSalvo was never tried or convicted for the stranglings. He recanted his confessions prior to his death in 1973.

The Boston Strangler’s story was made famous by the reporting of Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley), who worked as the editorial page editor at the Boston Globe and linked the string of homicides. She and Boston Globe reporter Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) from a rival publication confronted the sexism of the early 1960s while covering the most infamous serial killer in the city. 

At first, McLaughlin and Cole wanted to work separately, but they teamed up when they realize the advantages of collaborating to write a series of follow-up articles about the Boston Strangler. In the process, they formed a bond. This connection was enjoyable to watch because it developed gradually and showcased the success women can achieve when they work together.

This suspenseful film will leave you shocked and experiencing a range of emotions, particularly because the actors do such a convincing job in their roles.

My favorite character was McLaughlin because of Knightley’s acting skills, which never fail to impress me. I loved her character’s persistence even when facing people who did not recognize her ability and did not believe her theories, which were complicated by the fact that the Boston Strangler changed his targets from older to younger women but killed all of them in a similar way.

My least favorite character is DeSalvo because, even though his psychological profile should be interesting, he was not on screen much, and the scenes he did appear in were somewhat slow and predictable. There was very little graphic imagery, so it is hard for viewers to understand how deranged DeSalvo was.

This film tells a complex story, so I appreciate how clear the plot events and transitions between scenes were. I enjoyed the frequent scene changes, which held my attention, and especially liked the conversations that took place at Loretta’s office, where she discussed the investigation, and Loretta’s home, where she constantly argued with her husband because he felt her work was taking a toll on their family. I also appreciated the scenery, which was true to the time period when it came to the type of telephones and electronics that were used.

Whether you are a true crime fan, journalism buff or just a person looking for an engaging film to pass the time, this spring break, curl up on your couch and watch “Boston Strangler.” You won’t regret it.

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