Time Review – BFI London Film Festival 2020

time review amazon studios
5
POOR

Director: Garrett Bradley

New Amazon Original documentary Time tells the story of Sibil Fox Richardson and her fight for the release of her husband from jail after he is sentenced to serve 60 years behind bars.

It reads like the latest in a long line of Netflix true crime documentaries; however, those expecting something as detail-orientated or evidence drenched as those will be left disappointed.

This is a much more personal style of documentary and one that has already garnered acclaim elsewhere.

The film is directed by Garrett Bradley who won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award for it when it debuted at Sundance Film Festival early in 2020.

Time to Spare

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Despite the films short length of just over 80 minutes it seems to take its time in getting started.

It might be worth looking into the film somewhat beforehand as at first, it feels reluctant to reveal much of the context to the story it’s about to tell.

This quickly becomes frustrating as viewers will find themselves trying to piece together parts of the story, becoming an unnecessary distraction that most certainly takes away from the beginning of the documentary.

However, to a certain extent, this problem continues throughout the film.

It’s rather sparse firstly on the details of the crime that placed Richardson’s husband in jail and secondly in her struggle to get him released.

There is no doubt that what is touched on in this documentary is a vitally important discussion, namely the broken US prison system, I just don’t think that Time does this subject the justice it truly deserves.

The same can be said for the two-decade struggle that Richardson experienced raising her family single-handedly.

All of this content is so worthy and deserving of exploration but Time instead chooses to give a quick glimpse into Richardson’s life over this period but rarely delves that deep into any one aspect of it.

Mother Knows Best

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It pains me to say this though as Richardson and her family are one of the most wholesome I’ve seen depicted on screen in a documentary like this.

Their natural charisma means that the film is never difficult to watch, their sheer magnetism will have audiences taking an instant liking to them and honestly it’s just as well for it as without this Time wouldn’t be worth any of yours.

If there’s one thing that Time does well it’s showcase just what an incredible woman, wife and mother Richardson is.

You won’t finish watching this documentary with any other conclusion than that.

Time has Richardson and her family to thank for keeping the film engaging because in terms of actual filmmaking and storytelling it’s lacking the informative edge that its subject matter could benefit from giving audiences.

Style over Substance

time amazon studios

Credit: Amazon Studios

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Whilst the more artistic choices of presenting the film in black and white and the use of its piano-heavy sore separate it from other films in the genre these choices don’t particularly enhance the quality of the film itself.

Further issues such as hard to hear audio in home video and scenes with phone conversations could have been avoided with the use of subtitles but instead only further the frustration caused by the film holding back when it should be giving more.

Unfortunately failing to deliver on detail prevents Time from fulfilling its full potential.

However, when viewed as a whole I’m not sure that was ever the intention.

If showcasing a family discriminated against due to the unjust systems in place was its goal then it has succeeded.

But in featuring these political subjects that require the attention of the masses and failing to fully address them feels like a disservice to the real-life injustices and experience of all involved.

A well-intentioned and wholly worthy subject matter but ultimately Time takes its toll.

What do you make of this review of Amazon’s new documentary, Time?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Breakdown


EXPECTATION
5
ENJOYMENT
6
UPON REFLECTION
4



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