Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middleclass Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
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In the late 1980's, the Friedmans - father and respected computer and music teacher Arnold Friedman, mother and housewife Elaine Friedman, and their three grown sons, David Friedman, Seth Friedman and Jesse Friedman - of Great Neck, Long Island, are seemingly your typical middle class American family. They all admit that the marriage was by no means close to being harmonious - Arnold and Elaine eventually got divorced - but the sons talk of their father, while also not being always there for them, as being a good man. This façade of respectability masks the fact that Arnold was buying and distributing child pornography. Following a sting operation to confirm this fact, the authorities began to investigate Arnold for sexual abuse of the minor-aged male students of his computer classes, which he held in the basement of the family home. Based on interviews with the students, not only was Arnold charged with and ultimately convicted of multiple counts of sodomy and sexual abuse of these ... Written by
Pro or Con: A brilliant look at a family imploding
Knowing some of the parties involved in the actual case I was curious to see the film to see how they came across on the big screen. I was however reluctant to see it since the furor over who did what or who didn't or who's lying or not was clouding my perception of the film from the get go.
I let time pass and finally sat down to watch the film once I thought things had calmed down.
As a document of a family on the path to destruction I am floored by the film. This is a heart breaking exploration of how things are not what we think they are and how character flaws can and will wipe out the ones we love.(Although I think Character flaws is the wrong term)
A great deal of the later half of the film dances around whether Jesse, the son who pleaded guilty to the charges, was really guilty. Its here I found the film to be slightly flawed because to me the film wants to have it both ways, him guilty and innocent. I think the film makers should have picked aside, since what they have done here seems less than subjective and fair (to either side)
This is a tough film. If you can't handle frank sexual talk about child molestation then stay away. However, if you want to see an excellent film about a family in crisis then see this film.
9 out of 10.
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