02 November 2008

Dear Zachary

Written & Directed by: Kurt Kuenne
Full credits from IMDb

Grade: 3/5

As a movie-memorial for a murdered mensch, Dear Zachary could have been terribly dull. Meant as a video letter to the dead man’s son, and built around home-movie footage and interviews with the victim’s family and friends, it might easily have had the effect of looking at an animated Facebook-album’s-worth of strangers’ conspicuously posed friends: so familiar, so foreign, so boring. But, thank goodness, director Kurt Kuenne (the victim’s childhood friend) knows it, so he compensates with copious B-roll and an exhilarating, rat-a-tat editing style. More importantly, though, he always keeps one eye on the titillating true-crime angle. Not merely a tribute to a by-all-accounts great guy, the epistolary Dear Zachary doubles as an engaging news piece; it triples as a cutting critique of the Canadian justice system’s bail procedures, extradition laws and child-custody practices.

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