The Friedmans are a respectable middle-class Long Island family, addicted to recording their daily lives - on super-8 in the early days, then later on videotape. But their world crumbles when the father, a respected teacher, is accused - along with the youngest of his three sons - of molesting schoolchildren. Unbelievably, the arrest, trial and its horrifying aftermath are all chronicled in the family's own home movies, and the result is a remarkable tangle of contradictions that will haunt you long after the end-credits roll.
A gripping look at the dysfunctional family of a paedophile.
- Capturing the Friedmans review by Shatner's Bassoon
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Originally planned as a documentary about David Friedman, New York’s number one children’s party clown, the focus of the story changed as soon as it was revealed that both David’s father Arnold, a well respected teacher, was the subject of a police sting operation involving Arnold ordering pornographic child magazines from Holland. As the documentary continues and the police investigation unfolds it’s uncovered that Arnold is under suspicion, and subsequently charged with multiple counts of sexually abusing young students at his after school computer classes, and while interviewed students testify that David’s younger brother Jesse had also abused them. As the pair face numerous charges of child molestation the documentary tells the story of the Friedman family through home movies, interviews and fly on the wall footage and captures the storm surrounding what was a well respected middle class family. Aside from the engrossing and disturbing subject matter what makes ‘Capturing The Friedmans’ so interesting is the Friedman family themselves, a heavily male dominated family in which father and sons seem to constantly try and outdo each other with self deprecating humour and eccentricities which often result in the mother of the family being pushed outside of the male dominated circle. And as the evidence mounts against Arnold and Jesse, and the trial approaching the male members’ of family never seem to get a grip of the gravity of the situation, instead trying to push on with a normal day to day life. By the end of the film you’ll either be condemning two deceitful and calculating paedophiles or a extraordinary miscarriage of justice, but the story of the Friedman’s is one which will leave you with more questions than answers. If you enjoy documentaries then this isn’t something you should miss.