Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Time Review: A Beautiful Expression Of Perseverance, Love, and Faith

Release date: October 6, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Fox and Rob Rich
Directed by: Garrett Bradley

In 1997, Fox Rich and Rob G. Rich were newly married high school sweethearts trying to start a business in Shreveport, Louisiana, when a moment of desperation led to a botched bank robbery that landed them both in jail. Fox served three and a half years; Rob was sentenced to 60. When Fox emerged, she dedicated her life to getting her husband out of prison and raising their six boys. A model of strength and perseverance, her mantra is, “Family is everything and everything is family.” 

Fox has spent the last 21 years filing appeals, making phone calls, giving lectures, and serving as a vocal advocate for other families broken up by incarceration—while also running a business and caring for her children on her own. Through it all, she has documented their family’s life for Rob, creating a home-video archive of all the crucial moments he has missed as a father, footage that also reveals Fox’s remarkable trajectory from a vulnerable young woman to an indomitable matriarch, entrepreneur, and abolitionist. 

Time is not your typical documentary.  The film is more of an art house piece than your standard documentary and it is a beautiful expression of the strength of Fox and Rob Rich and the family that they raised while Rob was serving time.  The film is entirely in black and white, which gives it a timeless feel and allows the footage to switch between current footage and archival footage seamlessly.  It is an interesting choice because this film deals with issues that are not black and white, but generally have some variation of gray in them.  Rob is in prison for a crime that he undoubtedly committed, but the punishment he was given seems unusually harsh.  And Fox is forced to find a way to raise her family, support them, but also focus on Rob's imprisonment and working for his release.  His sentence did not allow parole, so she has an uphill battle.  In other artistic choices, the film has not descriptive text to tell the viewer where they are in Fox's journey and what happened outside of the camera.  Everything is told through dialog on the video and context clues.  Director Garrett Bradley trusts the viewer to understand what is going on and just live in the moment, rather than trying to hold the viewer's hand during the documentary.  It is great that she trusts the viewers and makes for a beautiful journey, but I did have some challenges following the facts of Time.

In other ways that this feels like a very different documentary, the film is filled with absolutely beautiful piano music.  The music guides you through this journey and lets you know how wonderful this family is that you are seeing.  It really is something that has to be seen.  Sure, there are some things that I wish I had more information on, such as exactly what happened during the bank robbery, some of the timelines for the various Rich children, where they all are now, and some more information about the legal procedures that Fox employed.  But that would have turned this into a very different film, and Time is a documentary to experience without the need for that extra information.  And in experiencing this, Garrett Bradley and the Rich family tell a compelling story of perseverance, faith, and love that transcends time and shows both how strong love can be and also that there are very real changes needed in our criminal justice system.  I have no doubt that the experience made the entire family stronger and more determined to stay together, but the harshness of Rob's sentence and the disproportionate nature of sentencing in general towards black offenders is not a problem that is unique to the Rich family.  And Time succeeds in telling this story in a way that will melt your heart while hardening your spirit.

Time is a beautiful expression of perseverance, love, and faith and gives you a personal window into this amazing family's life and growth.

Watch it.

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Time is available to stream on Amazon Prime starting October 16, 2020.

After watching, check out our roundtable interview with Fox and Rob Rich and Director Garrett Bradley!

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