Documentary: Of Dolls and Murder.

Movie poster:  Of Dolls & Murder .

Movie poster: Of Dolls & Murder.

My hopes were so high.

But, alas.

It starts strong! Of Dolls & Murder opens with some exterior shots of one of Frances Glessner Lee’s Nutshell Studies, and then you hear John Waters—YES OF COURSE THAT JOHN WATERS—inhale and say, “Ahhhh, the serenade of police sirens and the zip of a body bag…“

Which is a perfectly ridiculous line and John Waters is one of the few people I can think of who could pull it off.

But, overall and seriously: if you’re going to market a documentary as being about Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies, maybe it should actually be about Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies? And I can’t believe I have to say this, but here goes: dorky time-wasting reenactments of Pretend Frances Glessner Lee painting bloody injuries onto dolls absolutely DO NOT count as FGL content.

Of Dolls & Murder is more about the state of modern-day forensics and how CSI has affected jurors than it is about FGL’s contribution to the science. It does also briefly touch on our love of and fascination with true crime, but it’s unlikely that much, if any, of what the documentary has to say will be new to true crime folks. Overall, it’s just scattered and unfocused.

If you’re interested in the Nutshell Studies, it’s probably worth a watch purely for the close-ups, but the biographical essay in the book has a trillion times more nuance and is actually based on knowledge of the woman herself, rather than on what various people think they know about her.