Above Suspicion, a true-crime story

Emilia Clarke in Above Suspicion

Above Suspicion is based on a true story of an FBI Agent and his informant. Emilia Clarke stars as a broke mom in Pikeville, Kentucky, who sees the new FBI Agent in town as her salvation. This review contains spoilers.

Above Suspicion begins and ends with a voice over from a dead woman. Emilia Clarke as Susan nails the Southern accent, as she does the drug addicted desperation of a character who wants out of her situation.

When Susan sees the new FBI Agent, Mark Putnam (Jack Huston), and his wife Kathy (Sophie Lowe) arrive in Pikeville, she sees a gorgeous man she wants for herself.

In a coal mining town where the mines are closed, the only way to make a living is to sell drugs. Susan is in the middle of that as both a drug user and someone who knows all the secrets about who is selling.

Johnny Knoxville and Emilia Clarke in Above Suspicion

Susan lives in a trailer with her ex, Cash (Johnny Knoxville), their two kids, and a friend in the drug selling business. They are broke, addicted, and unhappy.

Susan doesn’t know much about clean living, but she knows how to use sex to get a man’s attention. She goes after Mark Putnam in a big way.

Jack Huston and Emilia Clarke in Above Suspicion

Soon Putnam is using her as an informant. He gives her money and promises things like rehab and witness protection if she gets him what he wants. Eventually they begin an affair.

That’s were the trouble begins, because once he has what he wants, he forgets all about his promises to Susan. He wants to be left alone with his growing family and for her to get out of his life.

She wants the opposite.

Their confrontations grow more and more fraught until finally he kills her. He dumps her body in the woods and goes back to his family. He probably could have gotten away with it if he hadn’t been so consumed with guilt that he confessed. That lead to the first ever conviction of an FBI Agent for murder and the reason why this case received to much attention.

The film was based on the book by Joe Sharkey. A 1994 movie Betrayed by Love, starring Patricia Arquette was made about the same story.

Phillip Noyce directed. I found the film grim and slow, but Emilia Clarke was a revelation. Her performance alone makes it worth watching. It’s streaming on Prime Video.

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