LFF 2020: Time – Review

Release Date: 16th October 2020, Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 21 minutes, Director – Garrett Bradley

While her husband faces a 60 year prison sentence for robbery Fox Rich fights a tough judicial system while trying to provide for her family and get out a message of the racism within the US’s legal system.

The personal nature of Garrett Bradley’s Time is solidified early on through the use of black and white home movie footage from the Rich family who make up the centre of his film. Bradley keeps the more recent footage of Fox Rich fighting her way through the US court and legal system in the hope of finding justice for her husband, Rob, who has been jailed for 60 years for a robbery he committed in the late 90’s – something which she also took part in but got a much lower sentence for – in the same black and white style. This not only keeps a level of consistency but forms a connection with the viewer that doesn’t break. They feel for the figures at the centre of the piece as they struggle to get themselves heard while also trying to support a family, primarily Fox’s two sons whose father is in prison. It’s because of this emotional connection and the fact that it feels like you’re seeing something private and personal throughout the piece that the feeling of watching a home movie is spread over the course of the entire film, as if everything comes from the Rich’s themselves.

For years Fox has struggled, campaigning against the racism within the US legal system, the inequality in the way that it treats and sentences those of different races; forcing the harshest upon people of colour. Fox is honest throughout, her and her husband committed the crime, but their time doesn’t equate to what they did. Like with many families across the States it has a big impact. Causing stresses, emotion and hurt. Cries of “I want to be as far away from this level of pain as I can be” are heard as people discuss their experiences and Fox gives passionate speeches of what she has been through to get to where she is, even though her husband is still trapped within the prison confines. You want to see her succeed and believe she can, but whether the courts will allow her too is a different matter.

A key quote in the film when discussing how people of colour are treated by courts and prisons is “it’s almost like slavery time”. Something said with certainty, anger, emotion and no fear – much like the events of the film itself. There are some similar themes to Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary 13th, Bradley worked as a 2nd unit director on DuVernay’s Netflix series When They See Us, and they hit just as hard. This is a documentary that aims to show things as they really are and goes about doing just that. It’s unflinchingly defiant. Capturing a similar tone to Fox as she keeps going despite her struggles, trying to provide for her children while forking out increasingly expensive legal fees – the fact that she seems to be left alone to do this also providing an angle on the subjects of the film.

Just like a home movie Time shows you what happens as it happens. You feel a connection with the people who are in it, wanting to see them overcome the various obstacles in their way and be able to find some form of relief and happiness. Through each struggle and the pain it brings you connect and empathise for Fox and her family. The film is honest in its portrayal and thus captures a strong emotional core. Making the most of the personal elements of the piece for the biggest possible emotional engagement and from there response. It all comes together to create something that while engaging is, more importantly, upsetting, thoughtful, potentially angering, and knowing exactly what it wants to do and is doing. All because you see this not from the eyes of Bradley, but the hopeful, sometimes tearful, defiant, passionate, dedicated and angered eyes of Fox Rich and her family. While the film is about the story millions across the United States of America face every day, it’s this family we thoroughly experience it through.

Honest and unflinching Time is a heartfelt, emotional documentary that digs deep into the cruel flaws of the US legal system that cause families further pain by keeping them apart. This is felt through Garrett Bradley’s highly personal telling of Fox Rich’s story.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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