Directed by Garrett Bradley, Fox Rich fights for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year sentence in prison.
It’s harrowing to even consider the sheer amount of Black men that are likely sitting in prisons across America, serving unjustifiably lengthy sentences and missing out on being a part of their families’ lives, much like Rob Rich. With no previous convictions and having robbed a bank for the grand total of $5,000 he was sentenced to 61 years in prison, a mind-bogglingly chosen number but one that was certainly affected by ineffective and uncaring legal support. The film charts Fox Rich’s journey fighting for the release of her husband, it uses a mix of home videos and shot footage to give you a larger picture of Fox’s 21-year struggle to get Rob out of prison.
Fox Rich has a commanding presence and her Louisiana accent with its slow, purposeful cadence gives an immediate air of wisdom, confidence and determination. The film rests entirely on her shoulders, she’s the heart and soul of this film so the fact she has such strength in the way she presents herself easily leads it down the right road. Watching her go through this experience with such unrelenting passion and energy is inspiring, to be constantly confronted with incompetence and delay would drive any person mad but as much as it frustrates her, she never lets it get in the way.
Another of the film’s strengths is the editing, the timeline that it creates moving back and forth from past to present, showing their kids growing up and how their lives have changed since those earliest days is incredibly touching. The footage of the kids as young children is especially heart-breaking, watching their innocence and sweet dispositions, spending their entire childhoods deprived of their father and never knowing anything different. The direction plus its choice of a black and white finish give the visual a great deal of texture, it feeds into that very intimate and personal nature of the story. Their reunion is arguably the most emotional of moments that the film holds, unsurprisingly, it’s a beautiful moment and is perfectly scored to get the tears flowing.
It isn’t without its faults however, primarily that it feels the film forgets to look at the bigger picture, the systematic injustices that led to Rob’s incarceration, it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t seem as though the film wants to participate in a larger discussion of the issues at play. There’s also a lack of detail in regard to how the situation came to be and how the trial played out, it would have been very interesting and added even more depth to the story to explore that aspect further. Also, as great as the editing is for the most part there are a couple of moments where it needed to be tighter, one particular scene involving Fox using a certain disrespectful phrase should have been cut and their reunion gets overly intimate and only cheapens the emotions of the moment.
Time is an apt, poignant and heart-breaking film, it gives a deeply personal and intimate look into this family’s struggle with an unjust legal system. It’s a fascinating snapshot into a 20-year journey but one that feels incomplete, its focus was slightly too inwards and it would have benefited from looking at the bigger picture as well as diving into more detail of during and prior to their trial. The experiences that this film captures will likely reflect countless others across the world and shines a light on a sadly continuing state of injustice.