The House I Live In


Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 30, 2012
    The House I Live In is not a comfortable film to consider in any respect, but without discomfort it's hard to feel anger - and without anger, it's hard to imagine that anything will ever be done about it.
  2. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    Oct 18, 2012
    Jarecki takes a highly original approach to create a compelling, thought-provoking look at a highly relevant and controversial topic.
  3. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Oct 3, 2012
    David Simon, creator of "The Wire," who argues that the targeting of minorities, fused with mandatory sentencing, has turned the war on drugs into ''a holocaust in slow motion.''
  4. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Oct 25, 2012
    This film could serve as a potent tool for those trying to change 40 years of public policy.
  5. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Oct 25, 2012
    I've heard that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By that standard, the U.S. "War on Drugs" seems crazy indeed in The House I Live In.
  6. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 10, 2012
    Jarecki's film makes a shattering case against the War on Drugs.
  7. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Oct 4, 2012
    A personal work not because the director chooses to make himself a part of the story, but rather because he implicates all of us in it.
  8. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Oct 3, 2012
    The result is a movie that jumps all over the place, but with the ultimate intention of showing how the public's attitudes and assumptions about drugs have changed over the past half-century, guided by politicians and businessmen with a stake in misinformation.
  9. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Nov 25, 2012
    Among Jarecki's interviewees is David Simon (author of The Wire) who is incandescent with contempt for the system.
  10. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Oct 4, 2012
    The scope of the subject is such that when Mr. Jarecki's voiceover cuts into the narrative, imposing a personal angle on the national story, it reduces the sense of significance its creator aimed for. But that's a fairly backhanded endorsement of a very potent movie.
  11. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Oct 4, 2012
    It's easy to take issue with a documentary like The House I Live In, which tackles too much in too brief a time and glosses over complexities, yet this is also a model of the ambitious, vitalizing activist work that exists to stir the sleeping to wake.
  12. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Oct 24, 2012
    The House I Live In is depressing stuff, but it sparks the fires of anger, and from that anger, possible action.
  13. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 9, 2012
    The House I Live In is a work of journalism, not propaganda: Jarecki has done his research and leaves it to you to decide what to make of it.
  14. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 1, 2012
    I'm wary of implying that it's your civic duty to see The House I Live In, but - guess what - it is. And see it with someone whose views are different from your own. We're going to need everyone to help get us out of this mess.
  15. Reviewed by: Sean OConnell
    Oct 11, 2012
    Technically, The House I Live In isn't season six of "The Wire." But Eugene Jarecki's investigative documentary probing our nation's futile war on drugs is so similar in tone and intent to HBO's acclaimed series that fans of the defunct television program will want to take a look.
  16. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Oct 5, 2012
    The evidence Jarecki amasses against the drug wars in The House I Live In is more than strong enough to withstand any excess rhetorical zeal.
  17. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Oct 4, 2012
    While it's messily put together, with a sprawling and at times unfocused narrative that often gets in the way of itself, it doesn't deny the power of the facts Jarecki brings to bear on a misguided program that hasn't stopped the demand for drugs, that has disenfranchised the poor and minorities, and created an expensive prison industry.
  18. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Oct 1, 2012
    The mixture of different techniques and varied views results in a rich, multi-faceted look at one of America's most misguided policy initiatives.
  19. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Oct 2, 2012
    What's riveting and attention grabbing in Jarecki's recapitulations of failed policy are some of the talking heads he has assembled, including "The Wire" creator David Simon and historian Richard Lawrence Miller.
  20. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Oct 1, 2012
    A ballsy mix of interviews and editorializing that's daring enough to question a costly crackdown that has long had the public's support.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Oct 17, 2012
    It's a good documentary in that there are so many issues addressed therein that require examination (and often indignation), but it goes a bitIt's a good documentary in that there are so many issues addressed therein that require examination (and often indignation), but it goes a bit too far and fails to even posit alternatives. I love that they highlight the difference in sentencing guidelines between powder and crack cocaine. Completely asinine, even if you don't believe that it's targeting non-whites. The other issue that I feel is huge is the manipulation of federal housing assistance - ex-cons were denied housing assistance for all but the "red" zones on the city maps - essentially the ghettos. What was not discussed in this film was exactly how the experts would deal with drug dealers in absence of jail sentences. And when the son of the Columbia professor says that he can't raise 2 kids on $8 an hour, the father should have said, "YES, YOU CAN!..... It's a start! Get 2 jobs paying $8 each, and make your dollars last!" It seems that personal accountability is not given enough weight in the discussion. And comparing the US war on drugs to the Holocaust was disgusting. I know there are elements in common between genocide and marginalizing a group of people for actually doing wrong (buying and using drugs), but David Simon (who I love from "the Wire") goes too far when he suggests that the US policy is becoming "Kill the Poor." Hard-working poor folks who don't commit crimes? Those are the people killed in Germany, Poland, Cambodia, and Russia. They don't go to prison and get killed in the U.S. It's a bridge too far, and takes away from many of the valuable lessons of the film. Full Review »
  2. AGK
    Feb 18, 2016
    I Like Al Jazeera because it actually reports on stories that matter and they're not afraid to show you the full story and this is noI Like Al Jazeera because it actually reports on stories that matter and they're not afraid to show you the full story and this is no different. It shows you what is actually going on in America's war on drugs. Full Review »
  3. Sep 7, 2014
    The house I live in is an attack on the American "War on drugs," starting by shedding light on its flawed execution, and working backwards toThe house I live in is an attack on the American "War on drugs," starting by shedding light on its flawed execution, and working backwards to its flawed intent. But, because the user review section of meta-critic is unlikely to be a fruitful source of insight into this issue, I'll just talk about how this is as a documentary.

    This is a nearly perfectly made documentary. The talking heads are all either academics who are educated, concise, and articulate, or they are individuals living in a world where both drugs and the drag war might be the biggest determining factor in their lives.

    This movie proposes no real solution to the problems it sees, but whenever I want an example of the perfect mix of logos, pathos, and ethos, I point to this film. A must-see for documentary fans and anybody who wants to further develop their thoughts on drug law.
    Full Review »