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Casting JonBenét

A moving look at how and why we respond to sensationalized crime in deeply personal ways (Netflix)

Casting JonBenet Netflix
Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

The sensational, decades-old case of the 6-year-old beauty queen found murdered in her family’s home on Christmas night in 1996 is a popular subject for filmmakers looking to capitalize on the current taste for “true crime” documentaries and docudramas. But the focus of Casting JonBenét isn’t the crime itself: It’s the people of Boulder, Colorado, where the murder took place.

Director Kitty Green put out a casting call in the Boulder area, inviting people to audition for any role in the Ramsey case. Once they arrived on her set, Green explained that the casting material would be used in the film — that anything they said on camera during the auditions might end up in the final cut, so they should be careful about what they say. Most of the film comes from these audition tapes. Casting JonBenét makes the case that the way we think and talk about sensationalized crime cases is deeply influenced by our own experiences — and it calls into question the real possibility of ever arriving at something like the “truth.”

Australian filmmaker Kitty Green creates something powerful, provocative and dazzlingly original with her second feature documentary. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

Release date: April 28, 2017

Streaming on: Netflix

Metacritic score: 74 out of 100

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