Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Marty Demarest


It's hard to watch a film like Capturing the Friedmans and remember that it's a work of art. The story that this intensely compelling documentary tells us is about a real family caught up in allegations of sexual abuse. The gravity of the subject matter, along with the designation "documentary," puts us into a mood of taking everything very seriously. And so we watch as director Andrew Jarecki tells us about Arnold Friedman, a much-loved retired science teacher, who gave computer lessons in his basement. After allegations surfaced that Arnold was a pedophile, the police searched the Friedmans' home, turning up child pornography. Quickly escalating to staggering levels, the case against Arnold extended to his son Jesse. Both were imprisoned. Arnold died; Jesse was eventually released.


What brings us dangerously close to forgetting that we're watching a movie is another movie. Jarecki was given home movies shot by another Friedman son, David. An aggressive documentarian, David hauls out his camera and intrudes into the lives of his family from the first allegations onward. What emerges, between his footage and Jarecki's contemporary interviews, is a story of a community thirsty for vengeance, a family confused and hurt, a judicial system interested in proving guilt more than allowing for innocence, and a son (Jesse) who may well have been wrongly imprisoned.


It's harrowing to watch at times, particularly the footage shot by David. And the danger is that it's compelling enough to convince us that we actually know something about the situation. But when we watch it, and try to judge the Friedmans, we're really evaluating them based on the filmmaker's art. There is the artistry of Jarecki as he interviews the surviving family members and then edits the footage he was given. Then there is the artistry of David Friedman's home movies. Each member of the family becomes unglued, expressing rage and frustration in epic, dramatic ways (although Arnold becomes a terrifying cipher). And given the hysteria surrounding the case, it appears that the behavior of the judicial system and the Friedman's community is half-theatrical as well. In the end, by not living through it, the best we're given is a sort of ultimate reality TV show. Is that enough for the truth? Perhaps a truth. The problem is that the film is brilliant enough to make you think that it's the truth.





Publication date: 03/04/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Untouchable
  • Untouchable

    New claims of Spokane sidestepping civil service rules; Mobius finds a temporary home
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Friends with Benefits
  • Friends with Benefits

    Is a special deal with a private club helping the city's public golf courses?
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • A New Voice
  • A New Voice

    The Black Lens, continues Spokane's long tradition of African-American publications
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
USA Boxing National Championships (Finals)

USA Boxing National Championships (Finals) @ Northern Quest Casino

Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Jan. 24

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marty Demarest

  • The Cowboy's Cowboy
  • The Cowboy's Cowboy

    A Canadian sings about the life —  not just the lifestyle — of the new West
    • May 15, 2013
  • Completing the Trilogy
  • Completing the Trilogy

    Mass Effect has finally arrived
    • May 23, 2012
  • Minecraft
  • Minecraft

    Adventure and survival too often give way to mindless crafts in this building-block simulator.
    • Feb 8, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Say 'No' to Fear

    Why Spokane ought to embrace its roots as an immigrant-friendly place
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Mothers and Leaders

    History often overlooks the women who powered the politics of the civil rights movement
    • Jan 7, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation