One of 2007's best 'believe it or not' documentaries, Michael Chandler's amazing documentary Knee Deep is a rural Rashomon. Everyone has a version of events, and like the masterful movie it most resembles, 1992's Brother's Keeper, it is up to us to figure it all out. While it may be cliché to say it, the craftiest writer in the world couldn't create these people. ..While one has to remember that all "true life" tales are being filtered by the creator's camera (and choices), this is the rare effort that feels rightfully authentic. One of the best documentaries on closed-off communities and human politics ever mounted….A compelling cinematic experience…Highly Recommended
--Bill Gibron, DVDTalk
Knee Deep, a relentlessly surprising feature by Michael Chandler, plays like a rural film noir directed by Errol Morris. In its stab at explaining an attempted murder in Franklin County, the film coherently lays out a story that doesn’t make any sense, while leaving ample room to explore themes of urban development, the rural work ethic, and the curious overlap between truth and mythmaking. It’s also hilarious and full of memorable characters.
--Chris Gray, The Phoenix
One of the strangest, most deadpan, most intricately constructed docs at this year's festival A satiric study of rural American values wrapped in an attempted murder mystery. Funny and chilling, beautifully shot, cunningly edited, and eye-opening on every level.
--Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
A fascinating film about a botched matricide in rural Maine that is so strange it might qualify as a Coen Brothers film. But Knee Deep is actually a documentary. How they got all the figures in the crime to participate (except the victim) is a wonder in itself. But it's probably because they look deeper than the surface craziness to approach the soul of the beauty and toughness of an area usually far away from the public eye.
--Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant
There's an appealing, straightforward quality to the Maine people we meet here. Who fired the first shot? No one seems to know, but it's a fascinating journey, ranging from funny to heartbreaking.
--Mike Hughes, Gannett News Service
Knee Deep is as entertaining as any film noir, equal parts humorous and humanistic. It captures family pride and commitments as well as the crime story. Errol Morris and Herzog would be big fans.
--Mike Plante, Filmmaker Magazine
A stranger-than-truth tale both amusing and appalling…
--Dennis Harvey, Variety
For a son to kill, or try to kill, his mother strikes a chord straight out of ancient myth or epic tragedy. The excellent film Knee Deep looks at a peculiarly sad story. Remarkable not only for its extraordinary story, but for the frank honesty of Josh's friends, girlfriend and neighbors, who all offer different shades of sympathy and perspective.
--Kevin McDonough, United Features Syndicate
A thoroughly enjoyable Fargo / I Love You to Death-esque portrait of a hilariously close-knit family … a compelling look at a simple man driven to extremes, and what it takes to maintain a way of life.
--Zack Smith, The Independent Weekly
Documentaries don’t get any more compelling than this hilarious whodunit clash over a depressed dairy farm.
--Pop Matters The Top 10 Films of 2007 That You Never Heard Of
Audience members' jaws may be agape all through this strange-but-true story, about a sheltered Maine farmboy who attempts the matricide of his estranged, negligent mom…But what's even more shocking about the attempted murder is how most of the townspeople don't blame him for committing the act. Yeah, it's that kind of documentary.
--Craig Lindsey, Raleigh News & Observer
This documentary weaves a darkly comic tale whose characters could have come straight out of a Coen brothers film-but they're real.
At times Knee Deep plays like a real-life version of My Name is Earl , but the filmmakers are just keeping it real. Under the gritty surface of this film, there’s real poignancy and seriousness of purpose
Darkly satiric. Chandler, whose Forgotten Fires detailed the KKK's burning of black churches in a small Southern town, is a master at gauging the values of a community in crisis.
--Erin Clements, Timeout New York
Knee Deep is a mystery, a comedy, a deft character study and, ultimately, a bracing critique of how development is contributing to the disappearance of the family farm.
--Jurors for The Maysles Brothers Award, Denver FF
Knee Deep is remarkable not only for its extraordinary story, but for the frank honesty of Josh's friends, girlfriend and neighbors, who all offer different shades of sympathy and perspective.
--United Features Syndicate
The movie does not come to a determination about who did it, or even who got away with doing it. Instead, its assembly of various observations and assessments provides ground for reconsidering how memory constructs self-images, not to mention judicial proceedings.
--Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters
With his documentary Knee Deep, filmmaker Michael Chandler etches out a resonant and darkly comic glimpse of what happened when a young man foresaw the destruction of his only dream.
--Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide
The fact that this film has a strong sense of the ironic and a darkly humorous streak makes it all the more compelling to watch. It’s my favorite documentary that I saw at the festival.
--Jeremiah Rancourt, The Maine Edge
Knee Deep provides not only a tongue-in-cheek account of a true crime story in the words of Osborne's family and neighbors, but also a peek into farming as a way of life that is swiftly vanishing.
--Joel Elliott, Morning Sentinel
Chandler's work furthers the current documentary approach of showing every side and every nuance, shifting the viewer's sympathies with almost every cut.
--Michael Fox, KQED Arts & Culture
Interesting and intimate and at the same time about big topics like class and the American way. I especially liked the onion peeling nature, where the story keeps getting deeper and more complex. Great.
--Debbie Hoffmann, director, Long Night's Journey Into Day
This is a huge film. Josh’s sense of desperation, hurt and betrayal is astounding. The sister is heart-rending. Donna is straight out of The Maltese Falcon. And The Pie Lady is like a wonderful tragic chorus. What have these people done to anybody but get up and work like rented mules for decades? So much is contained here: the end of family farming, the destruction of everything by the real estate machine, and perhaps most profoundly, the decline of whites--what I mean by that is these are proud, self-sustaining folk who have always felt themselves to be an integral part of the workings of the country and the economy. Now, in Friedman’s Flat World they’re being cast aside. What is going to become of them? There’s a level where this is a kind of Sam Shepard tale, but there’s another level below that that is epically tragic, because it makes us see that something is indeed coming to an end in America. I kept thinking while I was watching, “This is a Robert Frost poem, no, it’s a Faulkner novel, no, it’s Frost...”
--Anthony Walton, author of Mississippi: An American Journey