Review of Michelle Danner's film “The Devil is in the Details. Miranda's Case"

Review of Michelle Danner's film “The Devil is in the Details.  Miranda's Case"

In theaters: Michelle Danner's film “The Devil is in the Details. Miranda's Victim. The history of the adoption by the US Supreme Court of the famous “Miranda rule”, which guarantees detainees respect for their basic rights (and at the same time the manifesto of the MeToo movement), inspired Mikhail Trofimenkov melancholy thoughts about films “based on true events.”

It's strange somehow. There has been a boom in historical documentaries on the book market for the past year in a row. The film market has a never-ending waterfall of films based on real events. But there are nuances.

Both the reader and the viewer theoretically know how the story they are listening to will end. The Allies will successfully land at Normandy, Marilyn Monroe will die, and the Cuban Missile Crisis will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. But for some reason, the best non-fiction authors, as a rule, create an atmosphere of historical suspense: the reader subconsciously thinks that something will suddenly go wrong, that history will change. In the movies it's the other way around. With rare exceptions such as “Miracle on the Hudson” (2016) by Clint Eastwood. Although you know that the hero pilot will save the passengers with a risky splashdown, the fear for him is inevitable.

Cinema - especially Hollywood - does not have the right to a scattering of details, to the polyphony of eyewitnesses offering alternative views on this or that event. Everything is subject to the inexorable logic of the triumph of good over evil: what suspense is there? The entire merciless structure of the film leads, as in Miranda, to an unbearably vulgar ending. Three women - a mother and two daughters - descend the stairs of the Supreme Court, rejoicing at the re-sentence of Ernesto Miranda (Sebastian Quinn) to twenty years in prison.

The February 1967 verdict capped a four-year legal saga in the rape case of 18-year-old Tricia (Abigail Breslin). The humblest of humble movie theater usher in Phoenix, Arizona, returning from work, was attacked at the stroke of midnight by a tattooed serial rapist. By a lucky coincidence, polite but evil cops will come across Miranda, a guy with a petty but rich criminal biography.

A confession in the absence of a lawyer, a dubious identification - and oops: the guy goes to prison for forty years. Lawyers fuss, the verdict is overturned, then confirmed. After serving nine years, Miranda will be stabbed to death in a tavern brawl, but his name will become a household name thanks to that very “rule.”

The trouble with the film is that any character talks not so much to the neighbor on the screen, but to the viewer, declaring certain positions. Trisha’s mother (Mireille Enos), who was obviously once subjected to violence, declares a sacrificial position: she doesn’t wash dirty linen in public, Trisha is damaged goods, who not only won’t get married, but won’t even be accepted into secretarial courses. Trisha's future husband is a mustachioed bastard, shocked by his wife's "damage". Her older sister embodies a spontaneously feminist view: it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to file a complaint with the police. Cops are nostalgic for the times when it was possible to get away with a detainee. Alas, liberal tendencies have even reached Phoenix.

Among all this sloganeering, the discussion about how the rapist carried out penetration seems to be an outlet: “in Arizona, a finger doesn’t count.” Poor Trisha doesn’t even know the word “penis”; she can’t even remember the details. The sister explains the difference between a finger and a penis using the example of carrots and eggplants. A scene worthy of Tarantino, if it weren't shot as pathetically as the rest of the film.

The only funny thing is how the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the well-deserved pride of America, falls under the steamroller of pathos. He is represented on screen by the sticky demagogue Flynn (Ryan Phillippe). He takes on Miranda’s case to prove that the cops are fascist lawbreakers who imprisoned his client only because he is Latino.

Meanwhile, Miranda was indeed guilty. But nowadays, due to the lack of DNA, he would probably be acquitted.

And if anything happens, call the hotline for victims of violence, prudently indicated in the end credits.

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