Capturing the Friedmans
Truth is often more harrowing than fiction, but it is a desperately elusive entity; even in a case such as the one explored in this disturbing but mesmerizing documentary, for which first-time filmmaker Andrew Jarecki enjoyed remarkable access to his subjects. Even Jarecki, who persuaded the family of accused child molesters Arnold and Jesse Friedman to cooperate with him, cannot decide whether the two are guilty, and his film raises as many questions as answers.
Capturing the Friedmans deals with the middle-class Long Island family torn apart in 1987 by child-molestation charges filed after a police raid uncovered kiddie porn apparently belonging to dad Arnold, a respected high school science teacher. He and his 18-year-old son, Jesse, were subsequently accused of molesting dozens of young boys, and their travails are painstakingly documented in this videotaped compilation, which even includes family footage recorded by another Friedman son, David.
We see strategy sessions between Arnold and his attorneys, conflicting testimony from alleged victims, posturing by police investigators and legal teams, and even the heartrending family farewells taped the night.