VOD film review: Time (2020)
James R | On 16, Oct 2020
Director: Garrett Bradley
Cast: Fox Rich
Watch Time online in the UK: Amazon Prime
Time will tell. So goes the saying among those with lots of it to spare. Garrett Bradley’s documentary captures just how much toll time can take, and what it can mean for those impacted by it. It focuses on Fox Rich, whose husband, Rob, has been sentenced to 60 years without parole for an armed robbery. The film isn’t a cry of innocence or wrongful conviction, but rather a portrait of a woman fired up by that severe stretch of time – it shows us just exactly what Fox did with more than 20 years to do something.
For Fox, Time means separation, hardship and difficulty – and Bradley’s remarkable film captures the human cost of a system that puts a strain on American families by zooming in on this single story, rather than consider the biases and injustices in the penal system as a whole (for that, see Ava DuVernay’s 13th). Bradley combines footage of Fox raising six children single-handed with moving home video footage, all of which is rendered with a black-and-white immediacy that belies how far from clear-cut the whole situation is.
That access, trust and collaboration all add to the emotional impact of this powerful snapshot – often, Fox is recording videos of her talking to the camera as if it were her husband, as much about keeping her going as it is keeping her cause alive. Soundtracked by the gentle but always-active stylings of the remarkable pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, the result is a tragic story of the non-stop ripple effects of incarceration, of the problems disproportionate sentencing can cause for Black families, from unaffordable lawyer fees to restricted visitations. (Only twice a month is Fox allowed to see Rob, she declares in one of many stomach-punching speeches.)
But Time is also a stirring portrait of how Fox refused to be a victim of the criminal justice system but a force to try and change it. She’s as hopeful as she is tireless in her quest for reform and for healing. Packed into just 90 minutes but filmed over several years, Time doesn’t lose sight of the weight of every passing day. Time will tell, they say, and this is a heartbreaking tale of love and resolve in the face of injustice.
Time (2020) is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.