True crime stuff always pulls me in and I thought it was great that HBO was going to take a run at the Jerry Sandusky debacle at Penn State. Having seen Al Pacino play Dr. Kevorkian in a HBO show, I was hopeful to get some real insights as to what actually happened during the turmoil of the case. I thought with the passage of time, we might get some clarity around the events that rapidly unfolded.
I was disappointed.
The HBO film, Paterno, is a bizarre collage of bits and pieces that barely hang together as a movie. I stuck with it to the end, because I was still in search of some resolution. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Paterno comes across as entirely unsympathetic from a character perspective. He is detached to the point of senility. The question remains through 99% of the movie as to what he knew and when he knew it. Only in the last few minutes do we get a glimpse of how many decades he covered for Sandusky.
The reporter character who broke the case is about the only character you can latch onto as redeemable and her parts are a jumble of disjointed segments leaving you to wonder what she actually thinks and believes. Her character could and should have been used to guide the viewer through the allegations of misconduct. In reality, you get the feeling she is along for the ride with the rest of us.
We never see the critical scenes where Paterno is told of Sandusky’s terrible infractions or his action. All we see is Pacino’s character struggle to remember the event and blow it off as not important. There are parts of this movie that either were left on the cutting room floor or never filmed in the first place.
Pacino’s acting is great but there is nothing in the character he plays that viewers can or will identify with. The victims of Jerry Sandusky are backgrounds to a choppy plot. What was needed here was a treatment like All The President’s Men or The Post. What we get is dull and filmed with lots of strange moving camera angles and poorly written lines about characters none of us can identify with or care about. It fails as true crime or even as fluff-entertainment.
I was disappointed in HBO this time around, a rarity.