Review: “37” Takes A Stab In The Dark At 1964 Kitty Genovese Murder
Samira Wiley is the silver lining to an otherwise menial and fictional take on the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in Puk Grasten’s directorial debut, “37.”
In Puk Grasten directorial debut, the fictional take on the since-debunked 1964 Kitty Genovese murder, while mildly entertaining, was menial and glaringly mis-titled. Loosely based upon the often contested atrociously despicable headline turned urban lore, “37” further fictionalizes the the tale by revisiting the day and night of the event through the lives of a diverse ensemble of characters.
Based upon a tale alleged to have rocked North-East America in ’64, “37” is visually artful and manages to wrangle some poignant commentary from the familial dysfunction and prejudices that the ensemble of characters encounter throughout the course of the story. But, it ultimately has nothing to do with the infamous murder after which the film is titled, downgrading provocative lore into a futile and unfulfilling exercise in the importance of being neighborly.
Cinematic (Cinematography, Acting, Story, etc.) – 3
In March 1964, 37 witnesses did nothing to intervene as Kitty Genovese was raped and murdered in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York… “37,” featuring “Orange is the New Black” star Samira Wiley (“Poussey Washington”), is a fictionalized interpretation of that fatal night. Shot only a few blocks from the scene of the mythicised crime, “37” delivers a convincing period landscape. While the efforts of several of the actors do not go unnoticed, lead by the captivating Netflix-born sweetheart Samira Wiley, the frivolous and practically unrelated story ultimately stifles any sense of emotional investment in the film.
Entertainment Value – 3
The mildly entertaining, and well-intentioned ensemble does its best to command attention, but the film’s abrupt conclusion seems more of an afterthought than the proper namesake it could have been. The pastiche of fictitious and characters suffer from being underutilized, with colorful story arcs that dead end into an ill-thought third act. The story goes that the witnesses who see and/or hear the assault are too preoccupied with their own problems to help.
“37” stitches together a mosaic of characters starting with a young family, new to the neighborhood, played by Samira Wiley and Michael Potts, who butt heads on rearing their timid son, as they struggle with racial tension and the morality of the appropriate age to murder mice; a young boy who lashes out amidst his parents’ decaying matrimoney; A pair of eccentric old crones who hiss at passing children and spend their evenings eerily rifling through people’s trash; an odd and anxious young girl, outstandingly performed by Sophia Lillis, who struggles to fit in with her peers only to be gripped by the delusion that Kitty may be her estranged mother. “37” creates much of potential for rich character development is created, only to be abandon the ensemble for a gimmicky third act.
Re-Watchability – 2.5
While mildly engaging the first time around due to the talented ensemble cast, the minimal dramatic pressure that builds from the flickering lobby lights and emotionally haunted children, leaves little to be desired the second time around. While the idea that the Kitty Genovese murder represents a neighborhood’s moral decay, which one can argue to be representative of today’s “look the other way” culture, relative to true-to-life tragedies, “37” is more myth that it is meaningful.
Watch the official trailer for “37,” writer/director Puk Grasten’s fictional re-telling of the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder.
- Entertainment Value
Samira Wiley is the silver lining to an otherwise menial and fictional take on the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in Puk Grasten's directorial debut, "37." While the idea that the Kitty Genovese murder represents a neighborhood’s moral decay, which one can argue to be representative of today's "look the other way" culture, relative to true-to-life tragedies, “37” is more myth that it is meaningful.
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