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Escape At Dannemora              review by Bobby Blakey

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I love films that focus on true stories since they are often times even more unbelievable than the ones made up. Sure most of the time not all the events are accurate, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still offer up something worth checking out. Recently Ben Stiller stepped back into the director’s seat to bring the limited series events series Escape at Dannemora starring Patricia Arquette, Benicio Del Toro, Paul Dano, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, and Eric Lange to Showtime. For those that might have missed it now you can bring it home.

Escape At Dannemora follows the true story of two convicted murderers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, who escaped Clinton Correctional Facility with the help of Joyce “Tilly" Mitchell, a female prison employee. Tilly, a working class wife and mother who supervises the prison tailor shop and becomes sexually involved with the two prisoners, ultimately assisting them in their escape. This is one of those slow burn stories that isn’t filled with a ton of excitement, but instead some excellent performances of a character study of the events that occurred.

Arquette does most of the heavy lifting here and is near unrecognizable as she fully immerses herself into the role. She has obviously done her research as she captures all of the real Tilly’s mannerisms and vocals to perfection. She brings such a range of emotion to the role with a lot of it said through her expressions that it is hard to not get wrapped up into her ups and downs in life and this crazy scenario. The same goes for Eric Lange as Tilly’s husband Lyle. He has immersed himself fully into the role visually and through his voice to perfection. It is almost impossible to tell the differences between the actors and the real people.

Both Del Toro and Dano bring this A game as well as convicts Matt and Sweat. While they obviously get a lot to do, they shine the most after the escape and in one episode that is a flashback telling everyone’s back story. Together they have all come together to deliver a really great series that Stiller once again showcases his brilliance at directing. Telling a story that you already know the outcome too is often times hard to pull off, but here Stiller manages to keep it engaging and interesting right up until the very end.

In addition to all seven episodes of the series this releases offers up bonus content including commentary and featurettes taking you behind the story and bringing it to the small screen. Grab your copy of Escape at Dannemora available now on DVD from Paramount and CBS Home Entertainment.   

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