IFFR Review: Life Of Crime 1984-2020

Wherever you stand on the nurture versus nature debate, it’s a given that the environment in which you grow up in has a huge impact on your future prospects. Where you live can be as important in determining your life chances as education or health, but in reality they’re all interconnected. Once you have a criminal record, your chances of being able to get a decent job or owning your own home are greatly diminished.

The criminal justice system in the US is stacked against those from economically deprived backgrounds. Job prospects are limited for those within a record sheet and the vicious cycles of crime, jail-time and addiction is difficult to break. Life of Crime 1984-2020 is the culmination of 36 years of work for Oscar-nominated director Jon Alpert. He follows three friends (Rob, Freddie, and Deliris) in Newark, New Jersey who are struggling to eke out an existence on the fringes of society.

Life of Crime 1984-2020 is an epic work of documentary filmmaking. Alpert’s time invested in the trio bares fruit, with almost unfettered access to the most intimate parts of their lives. This is where his film hits so hard and it’s difficult to watch at times. We’re welcomed into their world, from petty crime, to prison and into a severe addiction. Life of Crime 1984-2020 gradually builds up a picture of a failed society which allows the most vulnerable to fall through the cracks.

Life of Crime 1984-2020 screens at International Film Festival Rotterdam.

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