Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 40 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: 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.
  • Director: Andrew Jarecki
  • Genre(s): Biography, Mystery, Crime, Documentary
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Runtime: 107 min
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. By the end of the movie, it’s no longer possible to know anything with certainty -– so convoluted, contradictory, pathological, and long ago have the events become. It’s a movie that will have you talking and thinking for hours.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    100
    Not since "Memento" has a movie served up such a provocative mind-bender, and the Sundance winner by first-time filmmaker Andrew Jarecki has the advantage of being true.
  3. 100
    The more you learn, the more questions you have about life in that Great Neck house. Leo Tolstoy wrote that "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own fashion," but not even he could have invented the Friedmans.
  4. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    90
    Riveting and so suggestive that you can't consume it passively: You have to brood on it.
  5. 88
    It's a modern horror story that gets you where you live.
  6. Isn't like the classic Japanese drama "Rashomon," which suggested that one person's perspective of an event gave him a different truth from the person standing elsewhere.
  7. Jarecki shows off this footage as evidence of a truly dysfunctional family in various stages of denial. What it reveals at least as much is the modern phenomenon of reality-TV self-exposure carried to such lengths that, by comparison, the Osbournes look like the Cleavers.

See all 39 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 4 out of 23
  1. RichardH.
    Dec 6, 2008
    10
    flows over many provocative questions not the least of which is "what's more important: pursuing and convicting the most evil of criminals or pursuing and maintaining justice?" Expand
  2. SandieE
    Aug 29, 2005
    10
    Cannot stop thinking about it.
  3. Anna
    Mar 11, 2007
    10
    A brilliant and challenging documentary. stunning in every sense of the word. jarecki will challenge every notion you have held about sex offenders.
  4. Dec 16, 2010
    7
    close to an 8. I was surprised by this movie not expecting anything. Nicely done and it had my feelings for the persons doing the flip flop all the way through. I still want to know the "real" story but I don't feel cheated in any way. Must see movie. Collapse
  5. Jul 11, 2014
    4
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Capturing the Friedmans: 4 out of 10: Child Molestation, family dysfunction, mass hysteria, homosexuality, and clowns: Where do I sign up.

    Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki was making a documentary on the high priced children's clown Silly Billy (David Friedman). A very angry and irrational clown that will play into every clown stereotype you will ever have (Think serial killer). Well it turns out David is the older brother and son of the two men convicted in a famous child molestation case. during the witch hunt style child molestation hysteria, of the late eighties.

    Could the Friedmans also be victims of same said hysteria? Innocent men railroaded to prison? Well it turns out no. If you're looking for a documentary on the abuse of the justice system, especially in such cases, keep looking. If you want a voyeuristic look inside a upper middle class Jewish family one southern twang away from Jerry Springer welcome home.

    Without the child molestation charges this would be a hilarious romp. Each family member from the angry clown to the screeching mother is a gift that keeps on giving. Using home footage that manages to capture moments that reality television can only dream of. Capturing the Friedmans gives you a ringside seat next to a family imploding upon itself.

    Unfortunately much of the movie concentrates on the child molestation case at hand. Trying to create suspense and play with the idea that the two men are innocent, the movie sets itself up for a fall. While some of the charges are clearly trumped up (naked group leapfrog?), the father is also clearly guilty (and pleads accordingly). The son Jesse, whose case is on shakier ground, doesn't help his own cause by pleading guilty himself and having zero defense witnesses. (I.E. none of the boys supposedly there come forward and say he didn't do these things.)

    Jarecki clearly was playing with the hand he was dealt. And while he had an incredible collection of home movies fall into his lap, his attempts at turning it into a documentary about the American judicial system fall flat. On the other hand if I were looking at spending six months filming Silly Billy the clown I would grasp for straws too.
    Expand
  6. Feb 19, 2011
    2
    I felt that the directer had a clear agenda. After looking into the case - he left out numerous important facts that would have made the world of difference. He apparantly only interviewed a small number of victims and left out and/or minimized facts that would have contradicted an apparant agenda. If it was done on purpose or because of lack of research - shame on him Expand

See all 23 User Reviews

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