Sunday, June 23, 2024

Burden of Proof (2023) movie review and synopsis.

The brilliant director Cynthia Hill (“Private Violence”) probably assumed that “Burden of Proof” would be a feature film, but the saga lasted so many years that it was turned into a series. She spent most of her time over the course of seven years with Stephen Pandos, capturing in real time his lifelong investigation into his sister’s disappearance. The first half of the series is very procedural in a fascinating way as Stephen meets with experts, questions investigators and spirals around the obvious conclusion that his parents know more than they are letting on.

In February 1987, Jennifer Pandos simply disappeared. A friend remembers talking to her on the phone that night and hearing her father Ronald yelling at her to hang up. Stephen claims that Ronald had a violent temper, accusing him of choking and hitting his children. The next morning, Jen was gone. Mother Margie claims her door was locked and she was never seen again. The Pandos family lived in a gated and secure community. There were no signs of breakage. However, there was one note that only made the matter more confusing. In and out of police custody, the note claims to be from someone with Jennifer, pretending she’s fine, asking for money and quoting Jen herself. It made little sense. And this cast even more doubts on the parents.

They didn’t help their case. Stephen talks to relatives who claim that Jen’s parents never said anything about the case. The police accuse Mom of not returning calls that could have been about finding Jen (suggesting that Margie knew she wouldn’t be found). Memory and reality begin to blur. In one of his prisons, the father suggests that he tell them where her body is. Mom fails the lie detector test. A handwriting examination cannot rule him out as the writer of the note. All signs point to a violent altercation and a cover-up. At least, as Hill presents it, it makes perfect sense that Stephen would reach the conclusions he does.

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HomeReviewsBurden of Proof (2023) movie review and synopsis.

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