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Reviews Film

Capturing the Friedmans

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 08 April 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:901
  1. Peter Byrne, senior lecturer in psychiatry (
  1. University College London

    Directed by Andrew Jarecki, 108 minutes

    UK release date: 9 April 2004

    Rating: Embedded ImageEmbedded ImageEmbedded ImageEmbedded Image

    The past year has been a great one for feature length documentaries. It began when Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (BMJ 2002;325: 1247), the highest-earning documentary feature of all time, won an Oscar. Spellbound, about an American spelling competition, also achieved a high profile release, as did the semi-documentaries Touching the Void, a story of mountaineers' survival in the Andes, and American Splendor, about comic book artist Harvey Pekar.

    Capturing the Friedmans, a documentary about child abuse, is likely to be as successful as these. It is polemical, heart wrenching, suspenseful, at times even funny—and more. At one level, we are voyeurs to a family system where one brother audiotapes family rows and catalogues them. Fortunately for the filmmakers, his older brother went …

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