I’m trying to watch as much Discovery+ on Amazon right now before they switch over to HBO Max at the end of May just in case it’s no longer available. Who knows how these things work? In preparing myself for the loss of access to some of the best true crime series and films, I found myself watching Relentless recently.
This is the story of a woman named Christina Fontana who gets involved with different families of missing people. She makes a connection with the family of Christina Whittaker, a woman who went missing from Hannibal, Missouri. This is the hometown of Mark Twain but he’s definitely not a suspect. He has been dead for a long time.
I didn’t have too many expectations heading into this one or know a thing about the case. How would it turn out?
What was good about Relentless
I could go on for a really long time about what was good about this one. Usually when a documentary series lasts for about six parts like this one, there’s a lot of content. It reminded me a lot of Death in the Bayou about the Jefferson Davis 8. This one focused on a singular missing woman, though. It had the southern gothic true crime feel and an amazing boots on the ground aspect throughout as we follow Fontana in her search to find Whittaker.
This documentary had a ton of twists and turns. Even one of the people helping Fontana turns out to be, well, I’ll leave you to watch and find out. I don’t always like when a filmmaker gets heavily involved in a true crime documentary. Because of all of the craziness in Relentless, it added an extra element of surprise.
Fontana is emotional but in a good way. She connects with the audience and doesn’t really make it about her. This is a raw documentary filmed over the course of many years. I loved the pacing. Even though it took me parts of three days to get through, this was an absolute delight.
What could have made Relentless better
My only negative is that it seemed to end kind of abruptly. This is the problem with unsolved cases. I felt a little more cheating here than I did with Missing Kenley even if the outcome was the same. There are a lot of suspects. There may not have even been a crime committed if you believe certain people. This is always a frustration with such great true crime documentaries. How do you end a film with no ending?
I felt like the ending of Relentless was a bit abrupt. We get thrown a couple of leads and confirmation of past rumors. You literally won’t even be able to recall every single one of the possible suspects or rumors about what happened to Christina Whittaker by the end of it.
Maybe a few more facts about different crimes in Hannibal or related cases would’ve added to this documentary. Village of the Damned: Welcome to Dryden and No One Saw A Thing are two great examples of this.
Relentless could have had another episode or two and I think this would’ve still been a fantastic documentary. This is high praise. I’ve already lost my own attention writing this.
Is Relentless worth watching?
You better believe it. This is one of the better true crime documentaries I’ve seen in 2023. I’d say it’s below Missing Kenley but right there with Still Missing Morgan. What is it about unsolved disappearance documentaries being so well-done?
Overall Score: 9 out of 10
It’s not a perfect score. Relentless is still a close to perfect documentary.