Casting JonBenet (2017)

casting jonbenet poster 2017 movie documentary
8.0 Overall Score

Different and unique style

People expecting a true documentary on the crime might be disappointed

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Casting JonBenet

Studio:  Forensic Films

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 22, 2017 (Sundance)/April 28, 2017 (USA)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

casting jonbenet parents audition press conference

Who will be the Ramseys?

The murder of JonBenet Ramsey on Christmas Day 1996 created a firestorm.  The child beauty pageant star was murdered in her home and no murderer was ever found.  The police force was criticized for the investigation and the Ramseys became the targets of suspicion.  Now, hopeful actors (from the Colorado community) are auditions for the roles of the Ramseys and the investigators…and their views of the crime and what might have happened is being revealed.

Directed by Kitty Green, Casting JonBenet is a documentary film.  The movie premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2017.  It was purchased by Netflix and release don April 28, 2017.

The JonBenet case was everywhere in 1996.  In 2016, the case resurfaced with the anniversary of the murder, and the evidence and events were freshly reexamined.  Casting JonBenet benefits from this resurgence by recently having people reminded of the events…but also takes a completely different take on a documentary.

casting jonbenet 2017 burke ramsey auditions

Yes!!! I want to be Burke Ramsey!!!!

Casting JonBenet is both about the murder and not about the murder.  The movie is largely about how rumors and blurred versions of the truth shape people’s opinions…and that everyone becomes an expert.  The actors being talked to are from the Colorado area and some have ties to the Ramseys (though most are the typical stretched ties… “I had a cousin who knew JonBenet’s aunt’s friend”) but these ties and being in Colorado gives them their own ownership of events.  They assume things about the Ramseys and what happened that night…and everyone knows enough CSI to think they can solve the case.

The documentary however does present a lot of the weirdness that surrounded the case which (regardless of your level of interest or opinion of what occurred) was really, really bizarre.  What happened, why it happened, and how it happened almost don’t seem possible in a house with three other people in it…regardless of the size or time of day.  Through the actors’ retelling of what they think happened, you get glimpses of why this case fascinated people.

casting jonbenet angel ending

The truth shall remain a mystery…

The movie wraps the interviews with clips of a JonBenet Ramsey movie that doesn’t really exist with actors being interviewed.  It is a weird format that almost is like a behind the scenes look or a DVD extra of a movie (a bad, cheap Lifetime movie at that)…but it is the movie.  While this doesn’t sound like it would work, it is put together in a way that does keep you watching…and a short run time of 80 minutes doesn’t hurt either.

It seems like almost everyone has an opinion of what happened to JonBenet,.  As of yet, a killer has never been discovered, and with the years and years passing, it seems less and less likely.  My personal opinion is that the key to the crime is in the bizarre ransom note:  handwritten in the house after the murder, and requesting the amount of money that John Ramsey received as a Christmas bonus for a kidnapping that doesn’t happen…but having an opinion like this make me feel just like the actors in the documentary:  an amateur sleuth that can’t ever truly know what occurred December 25, 1996.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response