Capturing the Friedmans Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ December 8, 2009
Its a fun fact that this film is in the "special interest" category, eh?
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2011
"Who do you believe?"

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.

Documentary film-making has taken a step up in recent years with an increasing number winning high acclaim. It's not surprising that a documentary as interesting and as personal as Capturing the Friedmans is one of the most highly rated, and director Andrew Jarecki's insight into a real-life family being torn apart fully deserves it's acclaim. Great documentaries are films that manage to tell a story while remaining objective, and even though this film handles the ever controversial theme of paedophilia; the director allows the relevant parties to tell the story as they remember it, and ultimately the viewer is left with only the facts surrounding the case, which can then be used to form an opinion. The real life case that the film handles is that of the trial of Arnold and Jessie Friedman. Arnold Friedman was arrested in 1987 on more than 400 charges against young boys aged 7 to 11, while Jessie Friedman was tried for several sexual acts against young boys that were studying in his father's computer class. The film follows their story told through relatives and people involved in the case.

Perhaps the most astounding thing about this film is the fact that it was made. Most families wouldn't want documentary filmmakers (not to mention the world at large) getting in on their personal lives, but I suppose it did give them a chance to tell the story as they see it. The themes that the documentary handles are indeed harrowing, as aside from the obvious implications of being a paedophile; we've also got the destruction of a family unit, as well as statements of hatred from most of the family members. Andrew Jarecki keeps things moving by splicing real-life footage with testimonies from people involved with the case and the opinions of those close to the convicted. There are several facts that are presented, and some may believe that these are attempts to sway the audience; but the director only allows the actual facts to stand as the truth, while the personal opinions of those close to the central family are kept plainly as opinions. The film never makes a big thing of its central plot, and it's obvious that the director prefers to keep his eye on the family, which ensures that the resulting film is ultimately more frightening. Overall, this is a compelling watch and comes highly recommended.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2011
I love how this was structured as mystery of sorts, and how nobody was ever strictly villainized. I also love that David Friedman is a clown for a living. You can't make this stuff up, guys.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2006
Umm... I don't really quite know what to say. Interesting? Odd?
Super Reviewer
August 16, 2007
It?s dvd cover describes this documentary as ?thought provoking?. Even the most open minded of people are probably thinking ?why?? this seems like an open and shut case.

As the documentary unfolds, you realise just how complicated the case actually is, how the family appears to show biased support to the family members accused of these unthinkable crimes, how they filmed themselves continuously through years as a family ? (in fact supplying most of the footage on this documentary), how the evidence is challenged and what in fact is or isn't true in connection with the case.

Questions pop into mind throughout the documentary, many are answered within the film, others have been answered in the very lengthly special features and of course there may be questions that will never be answered.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2009
A seemingly normal Long Island family gets turned upside down when the father's child porn addiction is discovered by police. What follows is a child-molestation hysteria that leaves the family in shambles. "Capturing the Friedmans" invites the audience to decide who's telling the truth, and who's telling what they believe is the truth, even while the filmmakers themselves seem pretty well decided in what they believe. The father, Arnie Friedman, seems a little eccentric: he's a musician and science teacher, who also held a computer course for kids in his home. His oldest son, Jesse (who was 18 at the time), also helped teach the class. After the father is busted for his child pornography, the police take the list of students from his computer class and go round to each of their homes to investigate possible molestations. While some students tell police nothing ever happened, others decribe wild scenes of child orgies, where the father and son routinely and violently raped large groups of kids in front of the whole class. The stories couldn't be more conflicting. On top of all this, the father admits to molesting kids when he was a young teen, and to "touching" boys inappropriately as an adult living in another community. But he swears to his innocense when it comes to the kids of the computer class. The mother is devastated by her husband's actions and finds resentment from her other sons for not standing by her husband. But was she more jealous of the husband for his close relationship with their sons? It was always a boys club and she wasn't always allowed in on the joke. The bulk of the film is told through old video clips and 8mm footage of the family, often goofing around, and seemingly happy. A fascinating, yet tragic life story.
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2006
Well made but difficult to watch.
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2011
This excellent documentary examines a tragic and revealing case through a lens of ambiguity that raises many thought provoking questions. Ultimately, an indictment of the hysterical and illogical nature of the criminal justice system on all sides.
Super Reviewer
October 28, 2007
I dunno what to make with these Friedmans. Even if they are indeed innocent, they are certainly a bit off-kilter. Nonetheless, it was a great documentary on how quick we are to judge people when a full witch hunt is in progress.
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2013
The deeper it goes into the story and the family's secrets the more unsure you are as to what exactly is going on. The footage that the Friedmans shot of themselves seems to only obfuscate the truth even more. Its disturbing, heartbreaking, and it will keep you up at night.
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2008
Compelling, fascinating, and utterly disturbing. This is goin on my favorite films list.
Super Reviewer
March 23, 2010
A shocking look into the lives of one family ripped apart by a tragic case of deception, lies, and hysteria. Yes, some of these men are probably guilty of some of these crimes, but it's amazing how something can escalate so quickly. This web of confusion is a sight to behold!
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2007
Normal everyday American family are suddenly thrust into the limelight as the father is found to have child porn. Then, he's a child molester, then his wife is insane, then he's innocent (and some of the claims have to be fictional), then his son is guilty as well, then the lawyer lies, then the eldest brother makes a video diary which appears to be an attention-seeking exercise, and it's all very so-so. To me it looks like the father did have some porn, but the media and the police for some reason blew it right up. Case closed, it's just a shame he went to prison.
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2008
Flawless documentary investigating the actions of members of a suburban family.Despite the real-events subject,what strikes viewers most is the horror movie direction and the lukewarm support on the Friedman scandal.Makes us feel we're viewers on a cold theatrical play where everything is at stake.
Super Reviewer
½ March 30, 2008
Amazingly emotional and powerful.
Super Reviewer
February 8, 2008
A well made doc that was supposed to be about clowns, but through unfortunate circumstances became about a family, through terrible allegations, begins to come apart. I have my doubts that the allegations are true, that leap frog game sounds physically impossible.
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2006
Did they do it? Please watch this and tell me what you think.
April 9, 2012
A searing documentary for sure, one involving some really unsavory characters. Honestly, the most brutal segments of the film are the portions containing home video and in the interviews with Arnold's brother. Otherwise, disturbing stuff decently crafted.
½ March 3, 2011
Disturbing? Sorta....Most disturbing list? Eh...not so sure. Leave you questioning the truth? Very much so. Good documentary.
½ September 20, 2009
another strange one. a Mocumentary that was somewhat enticing. possibly too long. about family disfuctions in new york. quite an upper-middle-class New York style film. very jewish. very OK.
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