Crown Heights is all about the real life story of a man who was wrongfully convicted for murder in the 1980's. His best friend knows that he is innocent, and spends a few decades of his life trying to prove it. The filmmakers behind Crown Heights wisely decided to capitalize off of the success of Serial and Making a Murderer in deciding to tell this story, that it's no surprise a movie about wrongful imprisonment won the Audience Award at Sundance. Seeing one more injustice in the world is something that resonated with audiences, and the efforts one man made to make it right are definitely inspiring.
The story was told a little differently than I expected, with a lot less focus on his original trial, and a lot more about his many years in prison. The second half of the film shifts the focus even further, as the best friend working on his case almost becomes the new main character. At first it was a little odd to me to have the trial over so quickly and not knowing where the film would go, but towards the end as the film concludes its story, I appreciated that decision. It allows the climax of the film to be a lot more impactful, and a lot more interesting.
Crown Heights is a solid film. It features great performances and a simple, but fascinating story. The two men's plight, one in prison, and the other in his own mental prison until he frees his friend are definitely stories worth telling. Another thing I was intrigued by was that our protagonist was in fact a criminal, just not a murderer, which took the film to other interesting ethical dilemmas. Crown Heights will definitely make an impact on those who view it, but probably isn't one of the strongest winners to come out of Sundance in recent years. EMILY RATING: 8/10