“The Interrupters” Review
Documentaries have slid their way into the mainstream; filmmakers like Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore represent a new breed of documentarian celebrities. Sundance, it seems, is happy to feed the hype. This year, for the first time, they’ve created a “Documentary Premieres” category, intended to draw attention to well-known filmmakers and their works. One of the featured is Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) and his newest film, “The Interrupters.”
“The Interrupters” is a long (2 hours and 40 minutes!), verité-style film about a group of community organizers who work to prevent gang violence in Chicago. The organizers are themselves reformed gangsters. One of the organizers, Eddie Bocanegra committed murder when he was 17, spent twelve years in jail, and has been repenting on the streets ever since. Ameena Matthews, the second-oldest daughter of Jeff Fort, one of Chicago’s most notorious gangsters, has the sort of piercing amiability that can appease anyone, even someone holding a butcher knife. The Interrupters are remarkable, brave people, fearless in the face of brandished pistols and roaring adrenaline. The people they serve – young black men with vague beefs to revenge – are captured with remarkable candor. The film doesn’t condone their misdeeds, but represents them as teenagers first and criminals second.
It is an exciting film, a few scenes recall moments from “The Wire,” and a moving story about the full breadth of human capacity – evil, empathy, and transformation.
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