By: Amanda Guarragi
There are many negative ways that the general public perceives journalists because our current media climate no longer separates what makes a journalist. Many think breaking any news makes a good journalist, but it’s more than that. Being a journalist means being truthful to the source and searching for facts in any story. In Boston Strangler, two female journalists take on the story of a lifetime that changes the media landscape in Boston. Lifestyle reporter Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) was the reporter who first connected the murders and broke the story of the Boston Strangler. She and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) challenged the sexism of the early 1960s to report on the city’s most notorious serial killer, as per the synopsis on IMDB.
Writer-director Matt Ruskin took the story of the Boston Strangler and put the focus on the female reporters. The 60s allowed women to work under certain guidelines to show they were progressive. However, McLaughlin and Cole were two women who kept pushing those boundaries by not following the guidelines. Ruskin only showed parts of what the Boston Strangler did, which was effective because the explanations from McLaughlin painted the brutal attacks differently. This story is layered because of the constant fear and worries that women have to live with. Whether in the workplace, out on the streets at night or even in their own home, women have the right to be worried about men. It was important for Ruskin to create that relatability between women when telling this story.
Knightley and Coon worked very well together in this. They played two women from different backgrounds in journalism and helped each other write this story. McLaughlin fought hard to get this story out there while putting a strain on her family life by being consumed with finding this man. Not only did she put herself at risk, but she also realized that law enforcement in Boston was not doing enough because women were involved. The more McLaughlin wrote about the cops not doing anything to help this case, the more they were under fire, and rightfully so. It felt like everything was working against McLaughlin and Cole, which is always the case when women are outspoken in a male-dominated environment. The story is engaging because Knightley performs well and is probably one of her best in this.
Boston Strangler is an important piece of history that shows how far women will go to protect other women. By doing so, they uncover the truth about the Boston Strangler, which is even more unsettling because of what was involved. It’s a haunting look at how deranged the Boston Strangler was and how many copycats followed. There are ways to assess the psychology of it all, but it comes down to the blatant misogyny and hatred that men felt towards women in the 60s because they wanted to start working for themselves. Those women who broke the mould of not being housewives were tested every single day. Women like McLaughlin and Cole were part of the new wave paving the way for other female journalists to write stories from their perspective because it matters.