Capturing the Friedmans


One of the best documentaries of 2003, director Andrew Jarecki’s debut is an unsettling meditation on the nature of truth and memory as it pertains to an affluent New York family embroiled in a notorious child molestation “sex ring” case involving the father, his 18-year-old son and numerous suburban children. Masterfully edited, the film is bolstered by a treasure trove of intimate home videos the narcissistic males of this family used to document their lives straight through the criminal crises that tore them apart. Interestingly, the second DVD includes a load of important extras, from court documents and unseen footage to telling testimony from law enforcement and the judge at various audience screenings. The second disc actually changed my opinion of this film from a great documentary to a well-crafted but ultimately misleading work that suppresses certain facts in its quest for dramatic controversy—ironically falling into the same fog of subjectivity as its characters. Those who find the film provocative should not miss the more than two hours of extras here.