REVIEW: The Interrupters

4 01 2015

The InterruptersTo fight violence, you need to know what it is. And in “The Interrupters,” a documentary that follows the CeaseFire group as they work to halt youth violence in Chicago, many somber explanations are proffered that really give us a sense of what these fighters are up against. Violence is learned behavior and also a disease – it’s what these kids expect to be their cause of death.

Steve James’ documentary ultimately proves to be about as untidy as the task of fighting this epidemic. The narrative he crafts out of his observations is rather scattershot, and very little attention is given to developing the arcs of certain important figures in the story.

Still, “The Interrupters” collects some rather moving moments that make the documentary a worthwhile watch. In one particularly somber montage, we see several makeshift mausoleums erected to honor murdered children. What else really needs to be said?

James makes sure we understand the fear that the normalcy of constant violence inflicts on the children of these Chicago communities. But, at the same time, he also makes sure we understand that this problem can’t just be solved by well-meaning white ladies like “The Blind Side” intimates. James unquestionably communicates the passion of these violence interrupters to turning the tide on youth violence, and we can see that they have slowly begun to inspire their community.

“The Interrupters” is at its best in these instances where can see and hear from the boots on the ground fighting the battle. CeaseFire’s CEO Tio Hardiman provides some very profound commentary, as do many other of his foot soldiers.  They do their job with near perfection and noble intent; James, in telling their story, brings merely the latter of those two attributes.  B2halfstars