Movie Review: Dear Zachary
Updated: May 27, 2019
And you thought Making a Murderer was messed up? Then you clearly haven't seen this independent film called, Dear Zachary. After binge watching Making a murderer, this popped up as a recommendation so I decided to give it a shot. What I didn't know how this film would hit home to me.
As per Rotten Tomatoes: On Nov. 5, 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was murdered in a parking lot in western Pennsylvania; the prime suspect, his ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, promptly fled the United States for St. John's, Canada, where she announced that she was pregnant with Andrew's child. She named the little boy Zachary. Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, Andrew's oldest friend, began making a film for little Zachary as a way for him to get to know the father he'd never meet. But, when Shirley Turner was released on bail in Canada and was given custody of Zachary while awaiting extradition to the United States, the film's focus shifted to Zachary's grandparents, David and Kathleen Bagby, and their desperate efforts to win custody of the boy from the woman they knew had murdered their son. What happened next, no one could have foreseen.
Rotten Tomatoes: 8/10 IMDB rating: 8.6/10
Critics Consensus: Dear Zachary is a both a touching tribute to a fallen friend and a heart-wrenching account of justice gone astray, skillfully put to film with no emotion spared.
Reeling after the 10 episode series of Making a Murder, I was in the mood for another crime related story. Sure enough, this was suggested to me by Netflix and I gave it a shot. I just didn't know what I was getting into and how it would make me feel after I finished it.
This is such a tragic tale where the judicial system in both the USA and Canada completely failed. What made it very relatable and disturbing to me, was the victim Andrew Bagby and his best friend Kurt Kuenne. I grew up in a small town called Welland, Ontario and how I dealt with my depression, self esteem and other issues was by making low production films with my friends. It made me reflect on my teenager years and how I lost connection with so many. Especially my best friend who was a spitting image of Andrew Bagby. He may not have been murdered, but he has gone into seclusion and no one has seen/heard from him in years. In the last 10 years I have learned so much about him I never knew. It is what Kurt went through in this documentary. He learned that he did not Andrew as well as he thought.
The film portrays a very negative picture on the judicial system as I previously said. But more so on the Canadian side. The phrase “looks can be deceiving” is a very good illustration of why the all this tragedy occurred. Essentially, because she was a doctor, the Canadian government felt she was no risk to any of their residing public in Newfoundland and released her pending trial. Which became one of the biggest mistakes in justice history in my opinion.
What came of this? The victim’s family became advocates of correcting the justice system as it relates to murder charges and for the most part, have become celebrities in Canada for this. However, this doesn't fix the damage that was done by this sick woman who in essence destroyed their entire family. I do not want to get into too much detail, but I suggest grabbing some kleenex and watch this film immediately. I cried through this entire film and I am so sorry for the pain the Bagby family endured.
Thank you for sharing these memories of Andrew with us.
Please go to the website and support this project and donate so this can never happen to anyone else’s family.