18 June 2007

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer

While Nick Broomfield's documentary can be upsetting, it is not as profoundly disturbing as the (fictionalized) Monster. The documentary is more concerned with the facts of what happened; not so much the deeper causes. The fiction film fleshes out a moving conjecture that connects Aileen's childhood experience of abuse and abandonment with the violence characterizing her adult life. Whether or not there is sufficient factual basis for this conjecture, it is emotionally persuasive.

Still, the documentary is worth seeing, though it offers a predictably depressing view of our justice system as it pertains to capital punishment. One of the most compelling moments is the news, after Broomfield has just interviewed a clearly bonkers Aileen (she's convinced that "sound pressure" is being applied in her cell to affect her mind, and that the cops had identified her after the first murder, but wanted her to kill more men so they could make money from selling her story) that a psychological screening the day before has declared Aileen competent enough to be executed. Broomfield wonders aloud what possibly could be considered incompetence, if Aileen is competent.

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