Capturing the Friedmans (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

Capturing the Friedmans (2003)



Critic Consensus: A haunting depiction of a disintegrating family, and a powerful argument on the elusiveness of truth.

Movie Info

The Friedmans are a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes. Caught up in hysteria and with their community in an uproar, the family undergoes a media onslaught. The film inquires not just into the life of a family but into a community, a legal system, and an era.more
Rating: R
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 27, 2004
Box Office: $2.8M
Magnolia - Official Site

Watch it now

News & Interviews for Capturing the Friedmans

Critic Reviews for Capturing the Friedmans

All Critics (154) | Top Critics (43)

Captivating and intense. Mature teens+.

Full Review… | January 1, 2011
Common Sense Media

Like the darkest pop song Billy Joel never wrote, "Friedmans" hauntingly asked how far faith goes when it comes to family, how much mercy we'd grant them based merely on our memories and how forgiveness sometimes endures years of fury before it's granted.

Full Review… | September 25, 2010

Probing into the elusive nature of truth, through the prism of one Jewish family, this is one of the most perplexing and disturbing docus in American film history

June 30, 2005
EmanuelLevy.Com insane document, a slice of life that we probably should never have seen. But now that we have seen it, it's too late to deny its crippling poignancy...

Full Review… | January 2, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Much of this information could have been delivered in a way that respected the Friedmans, even if they did not respect each other.

Full Review… | December 6, 2004
Looking Closer

The Friedmans are a case study in family dysfunction.

Full Review… | June 23, 2004

Audience Reviews for Capturing the Friedmans


Its a fun fact that this film is in the "special interest" category, eh?

Coxxie Mild Sauce

Super Reviewer


"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.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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.

Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

Capturing the Friedmans Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Capturing the Friedmans on our Movie forum!