Friday, May 3, 2013

Capturing the Friedmans

Release Date: 2003
Distribution Company: Magnolia Pictures
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Run time: 107 minutes
Seen on: Netflix DVD
Tone: Contains graphic descriptions of child abuse and language

I decided to watch this film for two reasons. First, it is number 20 on "50 Documentaries to See Before you Die."  Second, I plan to see 16 Acres at the Maryland Film Festival next week.  Richard Hankin is the director of that film, and he was the co-producer and editor for this film.  I hope by seeing other works by the directors, it will give me a better sense of the documentaries.

"Capturing the Friedmans" uses interviews and home footage to tell the story of Albert and Jesse Friedman, father and son, residents of Great Neck, NY in the 1980s who were both charged and plead guilty to child molestation.  The father, Albert, plead guilty first, in hopes of sparing his 19 year old son.

The interviews are of judges, lawyers, prosecutors, police detectives, students, parents, and immediate family members.  The film is remarkable for telling the story both from within and from without the convicted's family.  All those interviewed seem reliable, however, their reliable stories contradict one another.  The film also contains home videos from the Friedman family, which shows both a loving relationship between brothers and a conflicting parental relationship.

The film is graphic, containing descriptions of abuse, strong language, and fighting.  It is a powerful film, which causes one to consider several opposing views.

The film may be best described by Washington Post columnist Desson Howe, writing, "It's testament to Jarecki's superbly wrought film that everyone seems to be, simultaneously, morally suspect and strikingly innocent as they relate their stories and assertions...This is a film about the quagmire of mystery in every human soul."

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