Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 (Kino Lorber, NR)
Since Making a Murderer and similar shows exploded across streaming platforms, justice system and true crime documentaries have had a very successful rate of distribution, and for good reason. Many people, myself included, have a deep fascination with murderers and how society deals with them. Among many relevant topics, capital punishment is one of the most emotional and controversial, to the point that one could construct a documentary that centers around one juror in a death penalty sentencing and immediately draw interest. Some concepts only look good on paper, however.
Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 follows a woman who took part in a jury that sentenced a man to death. Some twenty years after the fact, she has changed her stance and feels significant guilt for making that decision. She decides to seek out the other jurors to get their views and feelings on the outcome, hoping to find out if anyone else shares her struggle. Director Florent Vassault delicately places the humanity of each individual under his scope, but the sum of all of their interviews doesn’t yield a particularly compelling film. It has its moments, but Vassault lacks a sufficient outline and direction for filming, resulting in a mostly repetitive and uninsightful exercise.
Lindy exudes charm and humility, and clearly has a big heart; we’re left with a very positive impression of her by the end. She also does not fit the model that most capital punishment opponents and documentary geeks may expect. She never states her political beliefs explicitly, but she begins to seem moderately conservative by the end, at one point proudly displaying two handguns she keeps in her car. Her surroundings allude to this as well, given the conservative demographics and her home being on an expansive estate where relatives come to hunt and shoot targets. Vassault uses sparse images to subtly illustrate the vague political environment that encapsulates these issues, drawing suggestive parallels between weapons ownership and stances on capital punishment in order to highlight potential contradictions. Unfortunately, he only does this a couple of times. Considering the amount of controversy that Mississippi has garnered over its justice system, I was disappointed to see that Vassault made practically no effort to tie the story to the location.
Vassault clearly knows how to balance a journalistic approach with his subjectivity as a filmmaker, but he mostly downplays both of these elements to a major detriment. A few shots stand out as being photographically beautiful, but don’t have any place in the narrative and seem pointlessly show-offy, as he hasn’t rooted his themes in the geography well enough. You can’t fault him for his bias nor can you fault him for his objectivity, because his movie lacks a strong conviction either way. There’s not much higher truth to digest after watching. Furthermore, the central idea isn’t strong enough alone to hold up an engaging film, and so requires a certain broadening and passion that simply isn’t there. The lack of energy and real substance strikes me as indifference on the part of the filmmaker, which begs the question: why am I watching?| Nic Champion
Lindy Lou Juror Number 2 is distributed on DVD by Kino Lorber. There are no extras on the disc.