Movie Review – Gosnell: The Trial Of America’s Biggest Serial Killer

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Gosnell: The Trial Of America’s Biggest Serial Killer – A glorified TV movie that still packs a sickening punch. Based on the true story of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia area abortion physician who was convicted of murdering three children after they were born, the film reenacts the investigation and subsequent trial that led to the doctor’s downfall. While on the surface this appears to be a pro-life, anti-abortion film, it is less about that hot button issue and more about this particular true crime case. That’s not to say there isn’t an anti-abortion tone that permeates the film; there is, but it’s not overtly preachy. It is merely conveyed by the details of the case itself. Of course, with a Christian production company helming the production, there are certainly some manipulative moments. Cross-cutting fetuses in jars to lively children playing at home would be an example. Thankfully, this is kept to a relative minimum and even the more gruesome aspects of the crime are kept offscreen. Even the damning photo that ultimately convicted Gosnell is not shown to the viewing audience (although a disclaimer at the end of the film notes that you can see the actual photo on the Gosnell film website if you are so morbidly inclined). The cast is solid, but unspectacular, featuring several television veterans such as Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman), Nick Searcy (Justified), Janine Turner (Northern Exposure), Sarah Jane Morris (Felicity, NCIS), Michael Beach (ER / Third Watch) and Earl Billings (a sitcom regular since the mid-1970s). Cain plays a police detective investigating the abuse of prescriptions by doctors which leads him to the Gosnell clinic in a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia. After learning that the staff is liberally evading the law, he gains a search warrant and uncovers a house of horrors – unsanitary conditions, fetuses left out in the open, poorly trained staff and a variety of other violations. Upon interviewing the young nurses on the scene, it is soon discovered that the doctor is not only aborting babies past the legal period allowed for such procedures, but in some cases, he is even delivering babies and having them killed while alive. The District Attorney’s office reluctantly takes the case, not wanting to stoke the flames of the abortion issue, but desiring justice for not only the infants killed in Gosnell’s care, but also for a woman who died in his operating room. The prosecutor (Morris) focuses on the abuses while the defense attorney attempts to drum up the abortion issue to defend his client. The rest is typical trial drama. Really a TV movie level production if a mainstream media company was willing to even air such subject matter, the power of the film is really in the story itself. Pulled straight from the headlines, it forces the audience to examine the issue at hand and discern if the doctor went too far in his actions. There’s nothing particularly memorable about the production itself and yet you will likely be thinking about this film long after you leave the theater.

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