True Crime Documentary Review: The State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith, Nice Concept with No Beef

The State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith could very well be an early 2000s film starring Reese Witherspoon if all you did was create something on a title. This is quite different. It’s the story of a woman, Brittany Smith, who is imprisoned for shooting a man after he has allegedly raped her.

There seems to be very little doubt that the accused rapist, Todd Smith, is guilty of the crime. However, because a lot of time has passed between the incident including a trip to a gas station for some cigarettes, the idea of “stand your ground” doesn’t seem as reasonable in the eyes of the law.

You can draw a lot of different conclusions and opinions about this case. I certainly have my own. It doesn’t matter when a rapist is shot and killed. And according to the story of the survivors, Todd Smith had the brother of Brittany Smith (I should mention, Todd and Brittany are not related) in a headlock. Fearing for his and her own safety, Brittany took his life.

All of the makings for a great documentary and an important question are presented in the case. We know Brittany killed a man. Did she have a legal right to do it?

The State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith has no beef

This documentary only briefly examines the case, the stand your ground law made famous in recent years mostly by some questionable men, and everything that happened. A short run-time of less than an hour, The State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith is a true crime documentary that doesn’t have enough length to please me.

Was there not enough film available? Did the producers call for a shorter film to tell this story? The point is made so maybe they felt adding an extra 30-40 minutes would have been unnecessary.

Something about short true crime documentaries always feels wrong. An hour and fifteen minutes should be the bare minimum for any film. There were so many more directions this could have gone in. It’s difficult to come with much of an opinion on a film that feels more like an episode.

The State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith raises important questions about the law. Specific to the area of Alabama where this takes place, we see how women may feel like they have no other choice but to take the law into their own hands. There is a ton of material the filmmakers teased us with. The short runtime kills it.

Overall Score: 5 out of 10

The State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith works 9-5. It arrives at work and sits in its car until it is time to come in. As soon as it’s time to punch out of the day, it signs out and leaves.

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