By Ana Claudia Paixão
Last week I was here talking to you about the important and well-edited documentary Pacto Brutal, about the violent and absurd murder of actress Daniela Perez, a crime that will turn 30 in December.
Unsurprisingly, it’s HBO Max’s most watched content this month, proof that the true-crime genre and biographies continue to lead our (morbid) interest, something that, as I’ve mentioned here too, is often more impressive than the reality.
In the United States, in particular, the genre is a source for series, podcasts and documentaries and each month we are surprised with one story hairier than the other.
This is the case with Candy, at Starplus.
On June 13, 1980, housewife Betty Gore was found dead in her home with 41 axes, while her newborn daughter cried in her crib.
The violence to this day is unparalleled. In the small town of Wiley, Texas, it was not common to have even a robbery and this murder made no sense. The story was going to get worse.
The self-confessed killer was a friend from church, Candance Montgomery, nicknamed “Candy” (an allusion to “candy” at the same time as the name’s diminutive).
To everyone’s surprise, Candy, who was the ultimate example of a good mother, housewife and leader in local society, was Betty’s husband’s ex-lover.
And that’s not the worst. In her defense, Candy claimed that the 41 ax blows were in “self-defense”.
You can read it again.
41 axes to an unarmed person who was disfigured were in “self-defense”.
Now sit down.
The argument was accepted by the jury. Candy was never convicted of the crime she confessed to committing.
The story is so absurd that it has never been forgotten.
After all, Candy not only made Betty mincemeat, but then cleaned herself by taking a shower while still at the victim’s house, returning to her routine as if nothing had happened.
According to the defense, in the discussion about the extramarital affair, Betty would have awakened a traumatic trigger in Candy by asking her to speak more quietly, giving the click to a repressed violent outbreak. I know it’s complicated, but that’s what “cleared” Candy.
The absurdity is fascinating. As in many cases, the victim was found guilty.
Candy Montgomery’s story yielded a 1990 made-for-TV movie, Evidence of Love, directed by Stephen Gyllenhall (Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall’s father), an adaptation of the book of the same name and starring Barbara Hershey as Candy.
Anyone who’s seen the film will notice that it’s the same basis – including dialogue – for the 2022 version, now starring Jessica Biel.
The series is available on Starplus and has a strong cast like Timothy Simons, Melanie Lynskey, Pablo Schreiber and Raúl Esparza. And yes, with a quick and important cameo from Justin Timberlake as the cop who finds everything out.
Jessica looks great in a complex role, physically similar to the real Candance and genuinely terrifying.
And here’s the tip. In addition to the Starplus series, HBO Max is already shooting another version, which it calls Love & Death, produced by David E. Kelley (of Big Little Lies). This version will star Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision) in the lead role.
Jesse Plemons will play Allan Gore and Lily Rabe will play Betty Gore. This new production has a screenplay by the experienced Kelley and was directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, of Homeland. In other words: with a lot of weight!
Love and Death is also based on the book Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs and articles published in the Texas Monthly about the crime.
The Elizabeth Olsen version promises, but Jessica Biel’s version is excellent. She criticizes how Justice and the media were manipulated by an articulate and cold killer. There are 5 episodes. Worth checking out.