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Overall Rating
4.25

Awesome46.67%
Worth A Look: 36.67%
Average: 13.33%
Pretty Bad: 1.67%
Total Crap: 1.67%

5 reviews, 30 user ratings


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Capturing the Friedmans
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Capturing viewer involvement."
4 stars

Illuminating documentary that places the viewer in the seat of judge and jury, retelling one Long Island family’s plaguing run-in with the law, and molding so much more of a vivid picture out of their lives from an abundance of homevideos and pictures.

Andrew Jarecki’s film started off as a documentary on New York City’s most popular birthday clown entertainer (David Friedman), but upon learning more about his family’s history, the thing morphed into a thought-provoking piece that presents its subject matter without guiding the viewer as to what their opinion should be. David’s father, Arnold, was a retired schoolteacher who obsessively filmed his family on ancient videocameras, etc., and who one day was accused of child molestation when child pornography was discovered in his possession by the postal inspector. Charges were stacked up, and soon students he taught computer classes to at his home were bringing forward charges not only against Arnold, but his youngest son, Jesse. The film is like a distant, after-the-fact inspection of something like “Law and Order,” but without a bias nudging the audience in the direction of their thinking. The collection of such large amounts of footage from the Friedman family’s media collection really helps in pumping personality into the people it’s documenting, and their participation could lone be responsible for the film being as full as it is, for without it, the movie would be more emptily constructed through various talking-head interviews. Any case concerning child molestation is going to be controversial, and one that painstakingly goes out of the way to present its evidence for you to make up your own mind, is mighty brave. Predictably, Capturing the Friedmans has been met with varying reaction — those convinced of Arnold’s guilt, and those, like his son David, who view the whole scandal as a lie, with his father persecuted in their small community as a scapegoat for the vicious crimes regardless of his lack of involvement in it. My own thought is that Jarecki, in his quest for objectivity, is actually under the belief of the family’s innocence or partial innocence, otherwise his labor in presenting the facts (as-known) to try to humanly portray a person who is made to look like a monster seems like an awful lot of effort. Or maybe that’s just my own subjectivity in wanting the whole thing to have been made up for both the sakes of the Friedman family (though it cannot make up for what they’ve been through), as well as the families of the possible/probable victims.

[Worth-seeing.]

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6907&reviewer=172
originally posted: 04/22/04 07:45:50
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/17/07 MP Bartley Horrifying, yet compelling. A total car crash of a family and a situation. 4 stars
8/17/06 Mary Beth not a date movie 4 stars
5/31/06 stephanie willis interesting, to say the least 4 stars
10/04/05 tatum Good, but highly manipulative 4 stars
8/22/05 gene good 5 stars
4/27/05 Gregory S incredible, haunting movie, utterly brilliant 5 stars
9/23/04 denny home videos were amazing; why did they make them? brother/clown was very sick 4 stars
8/30/04 Tam I was utterly mesmerised by this haunting film. Sympathies 2 victims (& Jesse if innocent) 5 stars
7/10/04 John Aster Habig does it make a point? at first i thought it was intriguing but gross now it is just gross 3 stars
7/08/04 Bob It's frightening to see societal hysteria at work. It's also an essential reminder. 5 stars
6/05/04 MyGreenBed Good voyeurism, didn't have an emotional response, son was railroaded, dad's a sicko. 4 stars
5/06/04 Mark Fulwiler Very impressive and thought provoking 5 stars
3/19/04 Cary Gordon Hard to watch, but damn engaging. 5 stars
3/17/04 Holly Beeman A very chilling documentary. I still don't know what to believe. 4 stars
3/02/04 Michael Mungin Very very sad, but very watchable. 5 stars
8/22/03 Lynn Murphy Best pro-pedophilia film of the year! 2 stars
8/05/03 Kelly The most thought provoking film I've seen in years, viscerally painful to watch at times! 5 stars
7/30/03 Reese Witherspoon suckzzzzz An astonishing documentary 5 stars
7/03/03 EL GREAT documentary! I cannot stop thinking about it and I saw it a week ago! 5 stars
7/03/03 barry of margate Even though the subject matter is very disturbing,this film is very unique. 4 stars
6/23/03 dj parmet Excellent but perplexing. Why did the family expose itself to the world/ 4 stars
6/19/03 Jan You will talk about it after seeing 5 stars
6/18/03 Larry pass 1 stars
5/28/03 Ralph Bradshaw Confusingly compelling. Who do you belive? 5 stars
5/28/03 Charles Manson I thought the movie was fun. It kills. 5 stars
5/18/03 Jesse Friedman Intereseted in learning more? www.FreeJesse.net 5 stars
4/13/03 Andrew Elliott This film is not just the best documentary, but one of the best films I've seen ever. 5 stars
4/03/03 chris T Unbelievably powerful, a film of incredible depth and intensity. So well made. 5 stars
3/13/03 the real Tommy Filmore I did not see this movie and resent my impersonator 3 stars
3/12/03 Tommy Filmore Oe of the best I've ever seen. I' heartbroken by the tragedy and injustice Jesse suffered. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  30-May-2003
  DVD: 27-Jan-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Mar-2004


Directed by
  Andrew Jarecki

Written by
  (documentary)

Cast
  N/A



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