A Cry in the Dark (1988)

This is an emotionally challenging and thought-provoking dramatization of the tragic, gruesome death of two-month-old Azaria Chamberlain on a family camping trip at the hands of a wild dingo in 1980 in Australia, and the ensuing media frenzy that led to a hyper-publicized trial and eventual murder conviction of her mother, Lindy. Meryl Streep’s superlative performance works primarily because of how subtle it is: This is a performance made up of a thousand nuances, and it’s all the more remarkable by how eerily identical it is to the real-life Chamberlain’s body language and speech patterns. The story itself is almost nihilistically grim, showing the extraordinary, cruel coldness of an indifferent universe, which is heightened by the fact that it’s based on a shattering real-life tragedy that was followed by a witchhunt by an impatient, downright irresponsible media appraturus commodifying a grieving mother’s emotional suffering to sell tabloid headlines to a sexist, ignorant public. It’s downright emotionally grim at times, but it’s a rewarding cautionary tale about media irresponsibility.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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