When has justice been served, and a criminal debt paid? When a victim’s family announces its forgiveness, and lobbies for the release of imprisoned? When new evidence casts a pall over a guilty plea? When an inmate is diagnosed with a terminal illness? These and other questions are at the heart of director Yoav Potash’s Crime After Crime, a documentary that spotlights the extraordinarily heartrending case of Deborah Peagler, a woman convicted in 1983, under a variety of extenuating circumstances, in the death of her abusive spouse, who it turns out pimped her out while she was still in high school and sexually abused his stepdaughter.
Potash delivers a methodical and effective but very posed drama, leaning heavily on pro bono attorneys Nadia Costa (above right) and Joshua Safran (above left) as his guides through the case, even though Peagler appears throughout as well. The evidence the movie cites is compelling, and the fact that the film spans such a lengthy period of time gives it an additional, natural dramatic pull; unexpected, complicating factors pop up, repeatedly lengthening the odds for Peagler. Still, while the film chronicles emotionally charged subjects like sexual and physical abuse, as well as unjust imprisonment, it has a fairly dispassionate heart, which is something of a blessing or a curse depending on one’s point-of-view. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. For more information on the movie, meanwhile, click here. (Independent Pictures/Oprah Winfrey Network, unrated, 93 minutes)