Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Directed by Andrew Jarecki

Starring Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman, Elaine Friedman


What I find most amazing about this film is how private and personal the video footage is. These were the days before mass media made everyone paranoid to be in front of a camera, and we see these people completely exposed, almost indifferent that there is even a camera there. How much personal video do we see nowadays that is not scripted, hammed up, or self-conscious? Virtually none.

Given the stories about Arnold’s parents and the obvious homosexual tendencies of their sons, combined with the magazine subscriptions and his written confession, I’m inclined to believe that Arnold had a previous history of abusing children, and that, at least in some way, his persuasions had some kind of influence on Jesse. But it’s a little unsettling that we still don’t know the truth about what Arnold really did with his students in Great Neck.

Families can succeed with at least one healthy parent. When both are screwy, all you can do is hope for the best. Arnold is dead, Jesse did prison time, and David is viciously defensive. Elaine got through it, but something makes me think that a lot of the drama could have been avoided if she had taken the high road instead of playing the victim. Wish we could have heard from the entire family.

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