As a Canadian, I can honestly say I am ashamed I did not know the name Steven Truscott prior to watching Wendy Hill-Tout’s movie, Marlene. There is no reason why any Canadian should not know the name Steven Truscott. And the film certainly brings to light what happened to Steven Truscott and moreover the power of love in this film. It’s about one woman’s fight to exonerate her husband. The Crown convicted him of a crime he spent ten years in prison for even if he did not commit it.
Marlene (Krisitn Booth and Julia Sarah Stone) wants to do everything for her husband, Steven (Greg Bryk and Dempsey Bryk). Steven is, as far as the law says, a murderer and rapist. She believes that her husband, who also stands his innocence, never committed the horrific act. He should be exonerated of the crime and the charges. That’s because she does not want to live a false life. One where her husband will go down in history as a murderer.
Several decades passed since Steven’s initially incarceration and release and there is now DNA testing technology that can prove his innocence. Steven would rather leave the past behind and not go through the whole process again. But his wife Marlene refuses to let him be named a murdered for a crime he did not commit. The movie tells the story of how they met, fell in love, and the eventual truth about this horrific crime.
The issue with Marlene is that the subject of the film is so much more interesting and engaging than the direction the film decided to take. It is a love story about a woman who fell in love with a convicted killer who maintained his innocence. Her fight to clear his name lacks any form of depth or intrigue. Marlene (Kristin Booth and Julia Sarah Stone) deliver remarkable performances. But the indifference and almost reluctance but then conviction of Steven feel unexplained. And the performances from both Greg and Dempsey Byrk just lacks any motivation or demeanor to the performance. For someone who has a wrongful conviction for something so horrific one would think that they’d want their name cleared more than anything.
Moreover though, the story of how the Crown labelled Steven Truscott the number one suspect and then later guilty of the crime would have made a more interesting movie. They could have interweaved that story with his marriage and his wife’s drive to clear his name. Focusing on this solely was a let-down that lacked any stakes and dramatic force behind it. The film should have focused more on Steven and the crime at hand, there would be more intrigue. There’s less of that in rather than their marriage and one woman’s drive to clear her husband.