Capturing the Friedmans Review: Even Handed? Or Effective Manipulation?

  • Pajiba
Andrew Jarecki's Capturing the Friedmans (2003) is a stunning piece of documentary journalism that is particularly memorable for following through in its act of walking the tight rope of impartiality. Unlike Errol Morris's equally wonderful The Thin Blue Line (1988), which combines noir, documentary, and dark comedy into a thought provoking and infuriating defense of convicted (yet innocent) murderer Randall Dale Adams, Jarecki's film does not attempt to exonerate Arnold Friedman, a high school science teacher who gave computer lessons in his free time, of sexual child abuse. When the film begins we feel a gaze much like Morris's; the Friedmans are an eccentric family: throughout the accusations, trial, and sentencing, one of Arnold's children, birthday clown David Friedman, filmed the family. Jarecki's documentary consists of interviews and David's original footage. We begin the film, after discovering that federal officials were drawn to Arnold after monitoring his mail for an order of child pornography,
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