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The House I Live In (2012)


Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 62
Fresh: 58
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 22
Fresh: 19
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 7,551


Movie Info

Why We Fight director Eugene Jarecki shifts his focus from the military industrial complex to the War on Drugs in this documentary exploring the risks that prohibition poses to freedom, and the tragedy of addicts being treated as criminals. In the four decades since the War on Drugs commenced, over 45 millions of addicts have been arrested - and for each one jailed, another family is destroyed. Meanwhile, the prisons in America are growing overcrowded with non-violent criminals, and illegal … More

Documentary , Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Jul 2, 2013
Box Office:
Abramorama Entertainment - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The House I Live In

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (58) | Rotten (4) | DVD (1)

The movie's indictment would be more persuasive had Jarecki recognized that his audience likely already knows most of what he recaps, and can handle the odd scrap of ambiguity.

Full Review… | January 17, 2013
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

"The House I Live In" leaves you shaking your head in deadened wonder at the waste of it all.

Full Review… | December 7, 2012
Detroit News
Top Critic

Tells a complex story with troubling ease.

Full Review… | November 20, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

The House I Live In is a work of journalism, not propaganda: Jarecki has done his research and leaves it to you to decide what to make of it.

Full Review… | November 9, 2012
Miami Herald
Top Critic

If [it] takes a while to focus, it eventually becomes the conversation starter the subject desperately needs.

Full Review… | November 1, 2012
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Jarecki takes a highly original approach to create a compelling, thought-provoking look at a highly relevant and controversial topic.

Full Review… | October 18, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Americans have long celebrated justice and freedom, but director Eugene Jarecki's The House I Live In forces viewers to look closely at political policies that have turned the nation into the No. 1 jailer in the world.

Full Review… | July 16, 2013

Whatever your politics, you will find things to astonish and flabbergast and enrage you in what is perhaps the most cool-headed examination of America's relationship to illegal drugs ever.

Full Review… | July 2, 2013
Flick Filosopher

Somehow, Jarecki pulls it off, circling his subject and revisiting key themes as he constructs the convincing argument that, while the drug war may affect only a certain segment of the population, it's everyone's problem.

Full Review… | March 28, 2013
Montreal Gazette

Our search for easy answers to the evils of drugs is an addiction we must wean ourselves from.

Full Review… | February 2, 2013
KC Active

A compelling investigation into the roots of America's war on drugs, which has massively increased prison numbers whilst failing to reduce drug abuse.

Full Review… | January 21, 2013

This fine film makes surprising connections and offers provocative arguments.

Full Review… | January 17, 2013
St. Paul Pioneer Press

It is the insiders, the prisoners themselves who are most cinema-eloquent, along with a surprising Iowa U.S District Court judge and an Oklahoma corrections center security chief.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Jarecki's arguments, presented as a very personal response to the war on drugs, are unashamedly those of a left-wing libertarian. They are also enormously compelling and extremely convincing.

Full Review… | December 17, 2012
The List

Suffused with a righteous anger that Jarecki methodically turns up to full boil, The House I Live In is an emotionally shattering work, but also one with a hefty, legitimate intellectual punching power.

Full Review… | December 14, 2012
Shared Darkness

The ambitious look at the drug problem here offers a too simplistic view that demands a more critical and more inclusive look.

Full Review… | December 12, 2012
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

What this film argues, pretty convincingly, is that the war on drugs is much worse than a failure. It argues that it is tearing our society apart.

Full Review… | December 10, 2012
Laramie Movie Scope

Jarecki makes clear that all our efforts and investments in fighting the War on Drugs haven't yielded any real success, only ruined lives, families and communities. There comes a point in any war where it becomes important to ask: Is it worth it?

Full Review… | December 3, 2012
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Expertly researched, brilliantly argued and masterfully assembled, it is also easily the documentary of the year.

Full Review… | November 30, 2012

One of the finest documentaries of the year, this involving film is lucid, sharply well shot and edited, and ultimately so important that it's rather terrifying to watch.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012

A wide-ranging examination of the futile, self-defeating "war on drugs" ...

Full Review… | November 25, 2012
Observer [UK]

One of the best documentaries out this year, and a must-see for Senate and Congress in America.

Full Review… | November 23, 2012
Times [UK]

An angry and personal attack on America's war on drugs contends it is a grotesquely wasteful public-works scheme.

Full Review… | November 22, 2012

Jarecki is a stickler for sticking to his subject, or sub-subject, until it squeals like a leech victim.

Full Review… | November 22, 2012
Financial Times

Audience Reviews for The House I Live In


It seems most criticism for this film comes from the 'It's not entertaining enough' angle. I don't watch a documentary to be entertained, I want to be informed on the subject, I want the facts, I want to hear it from not just the horses mouth but from the stage-coach driver, it's passengers, the stowaway, the people it passes, the people it runs over and from the other three horses pulling as well. This documentary looks at the situation from various different angels but grounds it from the view of the average American household. A good documentary separates speculation from fact, and that is exactly what happens with The house I live in. It's easy for me as a non-American to criticise the US system but then my house isn't exactly in order right now either. The facts remain, sooner of later America has got to face the facts about its past in order to build a better future. Think for yourselves and never judge those who are in a position you could never imagine. You really should watch this film.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

Documentary examining some of the absurdities of the War on Drugs---like mandatory minimum sentences, the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity, and asset seizure---and how they've turned law enforcement into a self perpetuating prison-industrial complex that does nothing to address the root problems. It effectively sets forth the argument that the system is broken and that those profiting from it have no incentive to fix things, but the idea of comparing scapegoated drug-users to Holocaust victims will certainly turn some people off. The doc's biggest flaw was that it needed to be made 20 years ago, when these crazy laws were being enacted.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

A documentary that looks at the "legacy" of the US's War On Drugs. It's undeniably fascinating subject matter but its filmed in a rather sedate, distancing manner, I wanted something more passionate and angry, more exhaustive.

Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer


The House I Live In is an uncreative, loooooooong winded, redundant documentary that isn't going to tell you anything you don't already know. There have been some powerful documentaries that are more informative and have less known information about drugs in America that give you that knowledge in a more concise, ENTERTAINING way. They'll also make you think. This one will make you yawn.

This broken record of a documentary tried to beat the same thing in over and over while tweaking its own footage to sway the audiences thought. It takes almost TWO HOURS to do so as well.

There's nothing insightful about The House I Live In and it's not much of a topic starter. It's mostly just boring. If you HAVE TO watch it, wait until you can see it free on FSTV or something.

Jason Cenzano

Super Reviewer

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