Tom Roberts, General Manager at Straford-upon-Avon Picturehouse, reviews this week’s Discover Tuesdays title, The Confessions of Thomas Quick.
Director: Brian Hill. UK/Sweden 2015. 94 mins. English, and Swedish with English subtitles.
Thomas Quick was born in Sweden as Sture Bergwall. He had some problems growing up, with a nasty violent streak, but nobody expected him to confess to murder.
But working with therapists and doctors, locked away from the world and fed some strong drugs, he gradually wears down and confesses to one murder, then another, then another, until he has admitted to almost every unsolved case in Sweden. Some of them are incredibly violent crimes against young children, and just hearing the details is traumatic.
While at its core this film is about Sture and the murders, about the route to his confession and the unveiling of the truth, it actually covers far more. These confessions gripped Sweden and created a Thomas Quick ‘industry’ in the media. This aspect of the story is not neglected, and indeed the film is as much about representation as it is about the crimes and Sture himself. We see the role that various doctors played in his life, and also the significance of newspapers, journalists and the public at large.
The Confessions Of Thomas Quick is in some ways very similar to The Imposter, and just as gripping. The film is constructed mainly of interviews, including some with the subject of the documentary himself, along with very effective use of police footage, taking us through the story. There are some big twists and turns, and the film takes us to some uncomfortably dark places en route.
A good documentary should have more depth than at first seems apparent, and this one will need suitable discussion in the bar afterwards. While there are clear judgements made of certain people, The Confessions Of Thomas Quick is at its most thought-provoking when we are left to decide on the wider issues of how crime and criminals are represented in the modern age, and how we all feed off these stories – including the audience watching this very film.
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