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'The Boston Strangler': the woman, from victim to investigator in the new vision of the famous serial murders


The film changes the version of the 1968 film through two real characters closely involved in the enigma: Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, two reporters, the first to connect the deaths as the work of the same criminal.

Thirteen women were murdered in Boston between the months of June 1962 and January 1964. The youngest was 19 years old;

the oldest, 85. Most of them were sexually assaulted.

They lived alone and the doors of their homes were not forced.

Investigators' conclusion: they knew the killer.

However, nothing seemed to unite them, except the fact that they were victims of a criminal, and perhaps also a devastating time for the female gender in too many ways.

In 1968, Richard Fleischer composed

The Boston Strangler,

a magnificent film, innovative and formally risky, the fruit of its time both in style and tone and, above all, in its treatment of women.

They only appeared as harassed, massacred.

The woman, passive object.

More information

Why we are fascinated by serial killers

Now, in 2023, Disney+ has released the new

The Boston Strangler,

a film of the same name that is in no way a


since it changes the point of view, the tone and even the investigation, turning the woman into the protagonist.

She does it through two real people closely involved in the enigma: Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, two reporters for the

Boston Record American newspaper,

the first to connect the deaths as the work of a serial killer, at certain times ahead of the police in the investigations, and who also had to deal with the contempt of a part of their editors, their colleagues, their families , from the commissioners in charge of the case and from Boston society itself, who did not understand what two women were doing involved in that sordid, vicious mess and not suitable for feminine sensibilities.

In other words, a film, once again, very much of its time.

From ours.

The woman, active subject.

In Fleischer's work, he highlighted the use of multiplication of screens and points of view within the same plane, so typical of that time, that the director of the also formidable The Rillington Place


and from another handful of fierce and cutting works he raised to the extraordinary.

In addition, he took a risk by giving a Hollywood star like Tony Curtis the miserable role of the confessed murderer, Albert DeSalvo (with controversy, since even today his responsibility for some of the crimes remains unproven), diverting in the second part of the I describe the attention paid to his life as a married man with children, to his psychology and to his troubled interior.

In his second feature film, Matt Ruskin, director of the new approach, nevertheless maintains the focus on the journalists, although without forgetting DeSalvo, and takes advantage of all the investigations and trials after Fleischer's production to provide not only a revealing feminist vision, but also a theory around the crimes themselves,

besides paying homage with respect to the 1967 film and to Fleischer.

And he does it by trying to emulate the kind of gritty photography, haunting tone, and lack of answers of a contemporary masterpiece:


Consequence: as David Fincher's film involves big words, in the comparison, surely unfair, it loses out by too many bodies.

More information

read movie reviews

However, despite this, there are many virtues of Ruskin's version, in addition to those pointed out regarding the feminist vision: some very powerful texts in the journalistic and attractive in the literary;

the use of the off-screen in the visualization of the crimes, in order to flee from the unhealthy and show respect for the victims;

and the thorny portrait of the emotional suffering of the journalist played by Keira Knightley, for getting into such a mess and not being at home taking care of her family.

And a phrase that swarms throughout history, and that is explicitly quoted so that we never forget it: "Men kill women."

The Boston Strangler

Directed by:

Matt Ruskin.


Keira Knightley, Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola, Chris Cooper. 



USA, 2023.




113 minutes.

Premiere: March 17.

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Source: elparis

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