REEL Review – Time (2020)

Director: Garrett Bradley | 1h 21mins | Documentary

Fox Rich’s husband was incarcerated for robbing a bank and sentenced to 60 years without parole. 20 years on, Fox is still fighting for his release.

In a particular part of Brady’s Documentary one of Fox Rich’s sons, named Justus, describes what time is. “Time is unbias, time is lost.” For the Richardson family, time is a fickle beast that has been torturing them for 20 years, continuously asking and longing for a return of Robert that is beginning to seem impossible. Mixing home movies from the 90’s, and a glossy black and white contemporary style, Bradley navigates a journey to freedom that is representative of the unjust penal system in America.

“My family has a very strong image, but behind all that is a lot of hurt.” This is no truer than Fox herself, a strong commanding woman that has more bravado than anyone who could potentially play her in a biopic. She’s a woman who’s raised a family single-handedly while also chasing the freedom of her husband without shedding an inch of hope. We often see her speaking to an auditorium of people about her life and journey, and how she has become the strong figure she is today. It’s delicately blended into the main narrative, and sweet little home videos of a youthful Fox, in love and subsequently heartbroken by his imprisonment.

What set’s Time a part from the slew of tacky criminal documentaries churned out by streaming services, is that it’s far more affective with it’s personal reflection.

What set’s Time a part from the slew of tacky criminal documentaries churned out by streaming services, is that it’s far more affective with it’s personal reflection. Fox is continuously angered with the American penal system, and while it’s often accused of different injustices the one that Time makes abundantly clear is the racial oppression as well as the sheer laziness. One scene is particularly effective at articulating Fox’s feelings, for the umpteenth time she calls to hear any news at the judges office, and when the secretary brushes her off yet again Fox switches from hopeless laugh to anger to tears all in the space of a couple of minutes. It’s encompassing of their tiresome journey over 20 years, something that the director never sacrifices in order to find the films gorgeous style.

The glossy black and white style isn’t just trying to make the film look good, it accompanies the home video style in order to keep the story personal. But it also creates a more open interpretation of the film’s scale, it’s individuality morphs into a parable of American injustice. It links it to a devastating realisation of a bigger picture, but Bradley’s delicate handling of the people in the film keep that individualism it so needs.

The film has a link to American religion, and while it does make the speech a little preachy it’s an important part of Fox’s identity. It’s part of the reason she managed to stay so strong throughout her wait, and part of the reason she represents the contemporary American woman with such pride. When it eventually comes too a wonderful end it’s victory is a sweet one, and it doesn’t matter where you come from the feelings of joy and relief are universal. Time is a beast, but through strong will and perseverance, it can be conquered.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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