An American Crime

An American Crime

Film – An American Crime
Deviant Behavior
Film Assignment #1


An American Crime is a film written and directed by Tommy O'Haver and released in 2007. It featured Emmy nominated Catherine Keener as Gertrude Baniszewski (the sick and poor housemother of six children) and Ellen Page as Sylvia Likens (an abused teenage girl). An American Crime is based on the true story of the tortured and murdered young girl – Sylvia Likens. Sylvia’s parents left her and her younger sister – Jenny Likens - with Gertrude in the agreement of paying her $20.00 a week to take care of them and act as a parent to them while they go on a carnival tour to work. The Likens’ parents entrusted their daughters to Gertrude after only knowing her for less than a day and did not even take a look at neither the house nor the bedroom in which they were leaving their daughters in. All of the girls were having fun and going to school, meanwhile two weeks later, Gertrude had not received the $20 payment from the Likens. She took Sylvia and Jenny down to the basement and spanked them with a belt as punishment to their parents. The girls, being young and ignorant, did not say a word to anyone.
As weeks passed, rumors that were supposedly spread by Sylvia about Gertrude’s older daughter – Paula – that she was a pregnant slut – were brought to the attention of Gertrude. Gertrude made Paula beat Sylvia up in front of all of the kids to teach her a “lesson”. At another moment, after Sylvia and Jenny attempted to talk with their parents, Gertrude burned Sylvia with a cigarette. Later on, as other scenes arised, Gertrude forced Sylvia to put a glass bottle up her vagina in front of the family, and then takes Sylvia to the basement where she is left tortured. The Baniszewski kids take turns hurting Sylvia because Gertrude said it was the right thing to do. Sylvia then died after the horrendous torture she was put through and Jenny Likens tells the

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