What is the story about?
Over the course of twenty years, the trials and yearnings of Sibil Fox Richarson and her family, who reside in the American state of New Orleans, are meticulously documented, as they fight and await for the release of Sibil's husband Robert, who was sentenced to 60 years of prison without probation or parole in 1999.
In a year when #BlackLivesMatter has taken precedence in the national consciousness in the US, and the victimization and humiliation of the African-American community feels like a chilling normal, Garrett Bradley's documentary highlights how one woman, together with her family, kept fighting and demanding justice for her husband, even when the whole world seemed to give up on them. The story is about Robert, but at the centre of the narrative lies Sibil Fox Richardson's astonishing story of grit and hope. Bradley uses a blend of meticulously-recorded home videos from Sibil and new footage, and frames everything in black-and-white as a way to mark out the happiness of the past as well as the hopelessness of the present. This is a beautiful documentary, but somehow it feels too polished. Perhaps a little messiness would’ve helped more.
Music & Other Departments
Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou's score provides a sense of unhurried and poignant levity to the proceedings. Zac Manuel, Justin Zweifach and Nisa East's black-and-white cinematography, together with Gabriel Rhodes' editing, make this a poignant watch.
The climax when Robert finally comes out of prison and is reunited with Sibil will make even the most hardened hearts melt.
Because of the nature of the narrative, which constantly flits back and forth in time, the narrative can appear disjointed. At the same time, it is to keep in mind that these are recollections which cannot always be remembered in a linear fashion.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes, in spite of certain portions in the narrative that feel too stylized.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, it is a decent one-time watch.