After 23 years on Death Row, a convicted murderer petitions the court for his execution. As he tells his story directly to camera, you gradually realise that nothing is quite as clear-cut as it at first seemed. The Fear of 13 is a stylistically daring experiment in storytelling – in effect a one-man play. Part monologue, part confessional and part performance, the film is illustrated with hyper-stylised imagery contextualising a narrative as compelling as any crime drama and features a final, shocking twist that casts his life in a new light. The protagonist carries the film with his charisma and literary turn of phrase recounting his experiences on the wrong side of the law, but David Sington’s film is more than an account of one man’s incarceration; it is both a damning indictment of the US penal system and an emotional meditation on the redemptive power of love and literature.
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