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Above Suspicion

The 1989 murder of Susan Smith is a despairingly grim Southern Gothic story, shot through with reckless sex, institutional corruption and Kentucky-fried local scandal: prime material for the kind of forensic, heavily extended true-crime podcasts (or Netflix-style documentary series) that garner such widespread public fascination these days. At least “Above Suspicion,” a steamed-up, sweat-soaked film adaptation of the material, mercifully rakes over its unsavory details in two hours rather than several. It’s quick, dirty and perhaps more tawdry than it needs to be: There may not be much dignity to be scrounged from the tale of a naive, drug-addicted FBI informant who sleeps with — and is subsequently killed by — her supervising agent, but Chris Gerolmo’s script isn’t at great pains to find the human factor here, and Phillip Noyce’s direction coats the whole unhappy affair in cold blue steel.

What it does have is Emilia Clarke. Not the first name you’d think of to play a downtrodden deadbeat from Pikeville, Ky., the erstwhile Daenerys Targaryen gives Susan Smith a hard, gleaming specificity that the writing sometimes lacks, and manages a creditable bluegrass twang. Her performance is the principal audience hook for a lurid, generically titled downer that has taken its time to reach screens following production in 2017. After a gradual international rollout, “Above Suspicion” was released directly to VOD platforms in the U.K. on July 13; a similar unveiling Stateside likely awaits. Acolytes of veteran genre ace Noyce are likely to find his latest a comfier fit than his last feature, 2014’s miscalculated Lois Lowry adaptation “The Giver,” but several rungs short of his most briskly stylish work.

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Duration: 104 min

Release:

IMDb: 5.6

Above Suspicion
Above Suspicion
Above Suspicion
Above Suspicion
Above Suspicion
Above Suspicion