In the mid-70s, fifteen year old Martha Moxley was found murdered in her own garden in Greenwich (Connecticut, not London as I first thought), but partly because of a botched investigation, the killer was never found. Twenty-five years later, an ex-cop, Mark Fuhrman, who was accused of perjury in the O J Simpson case, decided to write a book about the Moxley case, with the hope of finding out who the killer was. His initial investigation met with closed doors, but he eventually persuaded people to talk to him and began to put a case together. So successful was his investigation in fact, that he gathered together enough proof to potentially convict the killer. Would Martha finally be able to rest in peace?
About five minutes into this film, I realised that a few years before, I had read the book by Mark Fuhrman on which the film is based. This immediately piqued my interest; there is something about true life crime that I find utterly fascinating, and this particular case was a very tragic one. Able to remember the story very clearly, I was pleased to see that the film stuck closely to the book, although Fuhrman’s links with the O J Simpson case were over-played at times. And I liked the way that the story was told – partly from Fuhrman’s point of view, but also from Martha’s – she comes back from the grave to tell the story of her life for the few months before her death.
Christopher Meloni, who many will recognise from Law and Order, plays Mark Fuhrman, and does a great job in the role. He is not a particularly likeable character, and I think this is deliberate, but this just serves to show his determination to finally give Martha’s mother some peace of mind. I obviously have no idea whether Fuhrman was guilty of perjury or not – if he was, the perhaps he doesn’t deserve the fame he achieved from the Moxley case – but I prefer to look at this story as a separate case, and I just think it is a shame that we were constantly reminded of Fuhrman’s dodgy background. None of that reflects on Meloni’s performance though – that is definitely convincing.
Maggie Grace plays Martha, who tells the story of her murder from beyond the grave, as well as playing the role of Martha in a series of flashbacks. I wasn’t entirely convinced by her performance; Martha is just fifteen, but Grace looks much older, as well as looking like a model, when apparently Martha was just an ordinary-looking teenager. However, it was adequate, and I even found myself getting a bit tearful at times – the ‘beyond the grave’ thing could have been very fake and silly, but, perhaps because I knew it was a true story, I was more moved than anything else. Toby Moore and Jon Foster also deserve a mention for playing the brothers who live next door to Martha and may have had a hand in her death – Toby Moore was particularly good for pulling off a performance that was a combination of creepy and sexy.
I did find the film very compelling, even though I could remember how the story ended from the book. However, I am not sure that anyone unaware of the original story would be all that taken with the film – it was interesting to me because it was a familiar story, but ultimately, it is the true story of someone’s murder and as such, is without a lot of the thrills and cliffhangers that fictional thrillers can provide. It is very much a made for TV film of the type that Channel 5 often show in the afternoon – and that is exactly how I came to see it. Having said that, unlike many true life crime films, there is a very satisfactory ending to it, which provided me with food for thought rather than frustrating doubts.
What the film did stress, apart from Fuhrman’s dodgy background, was just how easy it is to cover up the truth, particularly when political connections are brought into play. I can imagine that Fuhrman’s investigation, his book and this film, made a lot of trouble for a number of people, although it was perhaps twenty-five years too late. And this does highlight the power of the people – no-one is really above the law – and it is just a shame that this sort of uncovering of the facts does not happen more often.
Although the film is about a murder, there is very little violence shown in the film – the most graphic image we see is Martha’s dead body sprawled in the garden, and there is not much to even show that she is dead apart from liberal splashes of red stuff. As such, the rating of 15 is about right, although obviously those with a very sensitive stomach might want to steer clear.
I did enjoy watching this film – it is a compelling story and Christopher Meloni gives a really good performance as Fuhrman. However, it could have been better and I am sure that the majority of people will find it no more than average. It is worth a watch, particularly if you like true life crime, but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to watch it – no doubt it will be on television again sometime soon.