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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 Jay Seaver

"The maker's hand is very visible."
3 stars

Where Spellbound (shown as part of a double-feature with Capturing The Friedmans at the Brattle) was a transparent documentary, Capturing The Friedmans allows its makers hands to be very visible.

Director Andrew Jarecki does very obvious juxtapositions between opposites - for example, two Sex Crimes detectives describing how to deal with children as potential witnesses and victims - and discusses how father Arnold Friedman and oldest son David filmed their family constantly, resulting in this footage being available. It doesn't make the film less dramatic, but it does counter the fly-on-the-wall feeling somewhat. Which may not be a bad thing, because who wants to be that close to pedophilia and child molestation?

I do feel this movie is somewhat misrepresented - I didn't find it terribly ambiguous at all. I think that by the end of the movie, it's clear that Arnold and his youngest son Jesse are not guilty of the crimes for which they were convicted (hundreds of counts of child molestation). In some ways, I think Jarecki does the audience a disservice by making the case look as strong as he initially does; the real interest, to me, is in how the justice system failed them; while there's a certain voyeuristic interest in watching the family fall apart, it's very specific to that family, as opposed to the more universal idea that justice can be too blind.

It's a good movie, disturbing in multiple interesting ways. That you can sometimes see the hand of the director manipulating your perceptions isn't the worst thing that can happen with a documentary, although it does distract from an otherwise very interesting movie.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6907&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/04/04 09:32:46
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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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