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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 26, 2021



‘ABOVE SUSPICION’ is a crime drama based on a non-fiction book about the true story of an FBI agent accused of killing a woman in a small mining town in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. 

It stars Emilia Clarke, Daenerys Targaryen in “Game of Thrones” who hit it big in movies like “Terminator: Genysys”. 

She plays Susan Smith,  the poor battered wife of a drug dealer, Cash Smith (Johnny Knoxville), and has two small kids. 

She’s addicted to cocaine, cheats welfare and has a miserable seedy life she wants to escape from. 

She sees hope in a newly promoted FBI agent who gets assigned to their town in 1987, Mark Putnam (Jack Huston, best known for playing Ben Hur in its remake). 

She helps Mark track down a notorious bank robber and arrest him successfully. Mark then gets her as a regular informer and she agrees as it gives her added revenue plus much needed self esteem. 

She helps him break a number of cases in the area, but she also gets attracted to Mark, who tries to resist her seduction since he is married and has a baby. 

But she gets more aggressive and soon, Mark gives in and they are having an illicit affair that eventually leads to very disastrous consequences. 

She gets so fatally attracted to Mark and even befriends his wife (Sophie Lowe.) She becomes obsessed with him and imagines he would eventually leave his wife to live with her. 

Mark sees the danger and tries to break up from her, but she spins out of control and threatens to expose their affair since she’s already pregnant. 

Mark asks to be transferred to another place but she continues to hound him. In a secret tryst in the forest, she gets violent with him and as he tries to restrain her, he strangles her and she gets ashyxiated and dies. 

He hides her body but his conscience won’t leave him in peace and he eventually confesses. He was sentenced to jail and his scandalous case is said to be the first time that an FBI agent was convicted of murder. 

This true story has all the juicy trappings of a dark and tragic drama like drug addiction and trafficking, domestic violence, infidelity and a shocking crime. 

Unfortunately, the director, Phillip Noyce (who has made some fine action dramas before like “Patriot Games”, “Bone Collector”, “Salt”) doesn’t seem to know how to tell his story in a more involving manner. 

The events portrayed maybe true but the way they are recounted on screen is so dull and cumbersome. You feel like it actually did a disservice to Susan Smith’s sad story as the victim.

Clarke plays against type and tries her best to be convincing in the role of a hillbilly white trash who has made many mistakes in her young life and obviously has no luck with men. 

But the problem is that the narrative itself is flat and lacks visceral punch, so her gritty performance also does not make any impact and we somehow feel sad for her.