Retro Film Review: Murder Without Motive: The Edmund Perry Story (1992)
In June 1985 a New York undercover policeman, allegedly acting in self-defence, shot and killed Edmund Perry, 17-year old black man. At first, this looked like just another piece of depressing crime statistics, but soon the public learned some extraordinary facts about murdered youth and seemingly ordinary tragedy became national news. That biography is a subject of Murder Without Motive: The Edmund Perry Story, 1992 TV film directed by Kevin Hooks.
The film starts few weeks before the killing when Edmund Perry (played by Curtis L. McLarin) graduates from Phillips Exeter, one of the most prestigious prep schools in America – world completely different from the mean streets of Harlem where Perry grew up and where he would end his life. The plot than goes back and time shows how young Perry, a talented and hard-working student, was fortunate enough to win scholarship for Phillips Exeter and thus escape vicious circle of poverty, drugs and violence that swallowed most of his less fortunate friends. But in Phillips Exeter Perry finds himself torn between two worlds – his privileged white schoolmates and establishment won't completely accept him because of his skin, while he feels alienated from his old neighbourhood.
Based on the book by Robert Sam Anson, Murder Without Motive uses this extraordinary and tragic story to deal with issues of race, class and socio-cultural stereotypes in modern America. Unfortunately, director Kevin Hooks is unable to reconcile this ambitious agenda with limitations of TV film format, so the film often looks too didactic, cold and sterile. Thankfully, the young and talented cast, which includes some names that would later become stars in their own right- Cuba Gooding Jr. and Carla Gugino – compensates script deficiencies with good acting. Murder Without Motive isn't particularly memorable TV film, those who happen to watch it won't have many reasons to complain over its quality.
RATING: 5/10 (++)
(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.films.reviews on March 1st 2005)
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Movie URL: https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/279692-murder-without-motive-the-edmund-perry-story