37: A Final Promise (NR)
Grasten's re-envisioning of the incident isn't the most entertaining in recent memory; in a clever comic device, a recent episode of HBO's Girls turned it into an environmental-theater piece that the attendees ironically bulldozed with their own personal drama. As Grasten frames it, the original crime also was overrun with the mundane details of private lives: The neighbors (including Orange Is the New Black's Samira Wiley and Maria Dizzia) weren't guilty of indifference — they were just really busy with seething marital conflicts, inconsistent disciplinary tactics and miserable family dinners.
For all its postures of humanism, the film is remarkably cold toward the victim herself, who appears only briefly. As it happens, the attack, heard from afar and glimpsed by certain characters, most directly touches three local children; having been emotionally manipulated by their guardians throughout the film, their pleas to help the lady outside go duly ignored. The great irony is that the aspect of the story that was largely fabricated by the press — our selfish disregard — remains the focus here, while the actual details of the attack are left unexamined. Grasten's film succeeds in muddying the moral backwater dredged up by the Times story even further, but viewers who don't come forearmed with background knowledge will find it hard to stick with.