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The Independent Critic

STARRING
The Friedman's
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Andrew Jarecki
MPAA RATING
PG-13
RUNNING TIME
108 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Magnolia
 "Capturing the Friedmans" Review 
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"Capturing the Friedmans" is a documentary by Andrew Jarecki that is compelling and almost impossible to not watch despite its sensitive subject and often traumatic information.

The film centers around the Friedman's, a middle class Jewish family that is torn about when father Arnold has child pornography found in his mailbox...this soon leads to allegations of dozens of counts of child molestation against him and his 18-year-old son during a computer club held at the house.

It is easy to point out that with child abuse, even the allegation will destroy one's life. In many ways, the truth does not matter. I have seen, time and again, families ripped apart by allegations of abuse only to have the allegations proven to be false. I must admit that I do have a bit of bias, but my bias fluctuates. First, of course, I am a diehard child advocate with a strong tendency to believe the victim. HOWEVER, I am one who tends to be skeptical when it comes to "mass" hysteria molestation accusations. While mass occurrences do happen, it is definitely the exception and not the rule. It is frightening to me that so often one child will make an accusation only to be followed by several others in the same setting...a sort of hysteria sets in. Too many investigators and interviewers do not have adequate training working with these children...and, thus, end up ruining innocent lives.

Yet, this documentary presents us with an almost even more frightening dilemma. It presents enough evidence to pretty much convince anyone that the allegations of child pornography are true...yet, puts into question the molestation allegations. Thus, it appears we have a pedophile...a perv...but, perhaps, not a molester. In other words, clearly...he has the fantasies...he can read these fantasies, write these fantasies...put himself at risk of these fantasies...but has he ever actually acted on these fantasies?

Add into this interesting mix family movies done by a younger soon...an odd addition, but remarkably effective in showing the emotions, the dysfunction, the utter emotional chaos as the family goes through the trial and watches the father and 18-year-old son end up in jail, where the father ends up dying. This is a sad film, but nearly a must-see...definitely a must-see for anyone who cares about children, who advocates for them. It is emotional yet oddly intellectual...it is, in many ways, terrifying yet amazingly informative. It truly "captures the Friedman's."

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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