by Charles Kirkland, Jr.
An unapologetic look at the prison system and how one family overcomes the damages it inflicts is the subject of the Amazon Original documentary, Time.
Fox Rich is fighting. Fighting for her family. Fighting for her business. But most of all fighting for the release of her husband. Almost twenty years ago, she and her husband, Rob Rich were found guilty of bank robbery. Fox spent less than a year in jail (probably because she was pregnant) while her husband was sentenced to 60 years in jail. Fox has spent a lot of her time not just caring for her family but petitioning the system for her husband’s release from a cruel and unjust sentence.
Director Garrett Bradley presents an interesting case in documentary form. He uses no voiceovers or narration. There is no interviewer asking questions or directing the conversation. He simply uses a collection of videos that Rich has made over the past twenty years to create a type of cinema verité that allows us to observe Fox and family in their unnatural habitat with only her voice to guide the viewers along. The only enhancement of sorts that Bradley undertakes is removing all colors from the film leaving only black and white images to view.
The use of black and white photography is a clever device to illustrate the irony of the idea that the criminal justice system is black and white, right or wrong, open or shut. In fact, there are many nuances and shades of grey that exist in many cases. This is not to say that Fox Rich or her husband was innocent or unjustly convicted. It is clear that they intentionally committed the crime and accepted the penalties for them. However, the system seemed to hand out an unfair sentence to Rob (who did not plead guilty as Fox did). But the story is not even about that.
This story is simply about love and family. Fox loves her husband even despite the distance. Fox loves her six boys and raises them to be fine gentlemen who respect the law and seek justice in their own fashions. Fox makes sure that her boys know their father and love him as well. The Bible tells us that love is patient yet there even times when Mrs. Rich is impatient with her situation but she is never out of love.
The flip side of the coin is the difficulty. The documentary never fails to let us know how hard it was to raise children without a father. How hard it is to be a successful businesswoman with a felony conviction (Her real name is not Fox Rich but was changed for business purposes.) How hard it is to be an advocate for justice with the Louisiana Justice Department. How hard it is to negotiate visits to Louisiana Correctional Facility known as Angola. Through being obvious about how hard it is, Time is a cautionary tale about making poor judgments that allow one to be placed in this untenable situation.
Rated PG-13 for strong language, Time is a beautiful, loving, and carefully crafted story that reminds us that love overcomes all. It is stunning and moving. A triumph of the heart.