A Mother’s Homicide Becomes a Son’s Passion Project in Murder on Middle Beach
Murder on Middle Beach. HBO. Sunday, November 15, 10 p.m.
Imagine putting a microphone in the face of your father and asking, serious as death itself, “Did you murder my mother?” Now imagine doing it again, three or four or five times, with your aunts and your sister, always the same question: “Did you murder my mother?” And now you begin to get the feel of Madison Hamburg’s life, and the flavor of the documentary he’s spent the last eight years making, Murder on Middle Beach.
Madison, just 20 and a student at a Georgia film school when his divorcee mother was stabbed and beaten to death outside their Connecticut home in 2010, decided two years later to make a short documentary about it for a class assignment. He hoped partly to resolve his own confusion—so far from home, he knew little about what happened—and partly to prod the cops into get back to work on what was rapidly become a cold case.
In many ways, he failed abjectly. At four hour-long episodes on HBO, Murder on Middle Beach is anything but short. And when it’s over, if anything, Madison seems even more confused about his family and the murder than when he started. But none of this is to suggest he failed as a filmmaker. Not quite like any other true-crime show you’ve ever seen, Murder on Middle Beach is like watching a surgeon wield a scalpel on his own body, uncovering new layers of infection every time he cuts. It’s hard to say what’s more horrifying—that he keeps carving or that you keep watching.
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