Boston Strangler review: Robust true-crime drama

A historical crime-drama film, Boston Strangler sheds light on the real-life murders of 13 women in Boston during the 1960s. It follows the case’s investigation and focuses on the efforts of two investigative journalists, Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery. It is now streaming on Hulu.


Boston Strangler is set in the ’60s and follows Loretta McLaughlin, a reporter at the Record American. After she notices a piece of news covering the fatal strangulation of three women in two weeks, she convinces her boss to pursue the story.

She discovers a connection between the murders as the killer left all three victims with their stockings tied around their necks like a decorative bow.

As the list of victims grows larger, Loretta joins hands with fellow reporter Jean Cole, to find the killer. They even start working near a Boston Homicide detective and share leads.

However, the two realize that the police are botching the investigation, and target their sub-par efforts in a story. Also, they come across drastic revelations about the murders in the process.

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Keira Knightley returns to film after two years and does a fantastic job playing Loretta McLaughlin. Her performance dives deep into the conflicts of being an ambitious woman in the ’60s as she struggles to manage her job and family.

Playing a real-life figure is never easy but she does right by Loretta McLaughlin by portraying a version of her who is driven, unwavering, focused, and hungry for justice.

Similarly, Carrie Coon matches Knightley at every step as Jean Cole. She is the anchor that guides Loretta in the investigation due to her experience. In the process, she helps her become a better version of herself.

The supporting cast, including Alessandro Nivola, Chris Cooper, Bill Camp, and Morgan Spector, among others, adds to the exceptional performances in the film.


Starting with the visuals, Boston Strangler shines with its ’60s aesthetic. Everything from the set designs and environments to costumes and props, add to the immersion and transport you into the past. Furthermore, the dull color palette gives the film a gloomy vibe.

Even though this story has been discussed in media before, the 2023 rendition of Boston Strangler is a slow-burn narrative that is quite intriguing.

The suspense builds up gradually, and even when there is a bit of a dud in the storytelling, the remarkable performances pick up the pieces. The plot presents multiple angles to this case, and there is an added dynamic of curiosity when the police’s lapses come into the picture.

The film also presents valid arguments for the real-life case and demonstrates doubts surrounding multiple suspects. Even though there isn’t any closure, as 12 of the 13 murders remain unsolved, the ending presents a version of the truth that is satisfying.

The film is quite visceral when it comes to the murders. It never actually shows any violence, but as the camera pans away, you can hear the attacks in the background, making the entire experience more uncomfortable yet effective.


Boston Strangler does suffer from moments where it feels too long despite its under 2-hour runtime. This patiently-told tale reaches multiple crescendos before falling off as many times.

Furthermore, certain aspects feel underutilized. There are subtle hints towards blatant sexism and Loretta’s crumbling family life, but such topics are never showcased in a way that they impact the case.

It would have felt more natural to show these women dealing with such barricades on their quest for justice.

Furthermore, the film just about fails to capture your interest in a way that would make it rewatchable or extremely memorable. Once the story is done and dusted, you’ll be curious for a while but won’t be compelled to learn more.

Boston Strangler fails to stick the landing in a way that would make it an actual thriller rather than just an interesting and information-laden film.


Boston Strangler is a well-made true-crime film that turns more into a drama rather than a thriller. However, the story of the two reporters uncovering the brutal truth is engaging and the performances are stellar. You might not find it as riveting or thrilling in the end, but you won’t be disappointed with the experience.

Boston Strangler
Boston Strangler review: Robust true-crime drama 1

Director: Matt Ruskin

Date Created: 2023-03-21 13:23

Editor's Rating:

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