Casting JonBenét

Kitty Green’s Netflix documentary about the 1996 death of six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey in her Boulder, Colorado family home is an unusual affair: it seeks the opinion on events from a number of actors, who are all auditioning to play (or who are eventually cast as) JonBenét, her family and other people who were involved in the subsequent unsolved investigation. It’s hard to say whether it’s really trying to get to the heart of the matter: the reconstructions that eventually appear in the film are presented in an extremely lavish, cinematic fashion, and they’re treated with the utmost seriousness by all involved, as you’d hope, yet Casting JonBenét becomes a rumination on interpretation as opposed to a documentary that seeks to provide a definitive answer; different actors choose to play JonBenet’s mother and father, or local law enforcers, in entirely disparate ways, and also have conflicting ideas as to what actually happened. Many draw on their own experiences in life, some of which are tragic. It’s an interesting watch, though some may find it in questionable taste. (***½)