Film Review: ‘Trial by Fire’

  • Variety
Film Review: ‘Trial by Fire’
Cameron Todd Willingham burned his three daughters alive, at least according to the state of Texas, which sentenced him to death in 1992. In the decades since, Willingham’s trial has been relitigated in the court of public opinion by the New Yorker, whose evisceration of testimony by arson experts gives “Trial by Fire” its title. The case has also become a cause célèbre for justice advocates sifting through convictions to find a case where the American government executed an innocent man — Willingham was put to death in 2004 — a travesty they would take all the way to the Supreme Court.

Edward Zwick’s take on the tragedy is a linear biopic, a film more comfortable with time stamps than in burning down the judicial system. “Trial by Fire” opens two days before Christmas in Corsicana, Texas, as 23-year-old Willingham (Jack O’Connell) flees his flaming house, barefoot, shirtless and screaming for
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