“Time” is directed by Garrett Bradley, stars Sibil Fox Richardson alongside Robert G. Richardson, and follows a couple’s slice of life, most specifically from Sibil’s point of view. This documentary follows Sibil as she raises her kids and fights for her husband’s release from Louisiana State Penitentiary for armed bank robbery. Sibil did her time for three and a half years, but her husband, Robert, is forced to serve 60.
For all the historians who read this in the future, I saw this movie in 2020, the year where literally nothing happened. With that said, I witnessed this film through an early online screening provided by Amazon. By the way, thanks guys! Going into the documentary, I had no knowledge as to what it would be about. It could cover anything really. Maybe I read one or two snippets about the film before going in, but still. So for all I know, I could have known the story, but I will point out that I avoided all trailers. Safe to say, regardless of the subject matter, I was ready for the movie. It’s nice to go in as blind as possible.
For those of you who know about my thoughts on 1996’s “Mission: Impossible,” you may know I enjoyed the movie, but I had a greater appreciation for it once I saw some information on what went down behind the scenes. “Time” is sort of in the same boat. I genuinely enjoyed what I saw. But as I did this review, I brushed up on the film’s Wikipedia page, and I came across this.
“She (Garrett Bradley) originally set out to make a short documentary about Rich, but after shooting wrapped, Rich gave Bradley a bag of mini-DV tapes containing some 100 hours of home videos that she had recorded over the past 18 years. At that point, Bradley transitioned the short into a feature.” –Wikipedia
This movie became a feature by a miracle, and it shows. The runtime of the film clocks in at an hour and twenty-one minutes. That’s shorter than most theatrical features today. You can argue that this is barely a feature, but I’d say that the sudden transition made the movie feel like it is one of a kind. Part of me would have liked to see how the short turned out, and not because I think the short would have been better. In fact, I think if this were a short, it wouldn’t have as lasting of an impact. It quite frankly would have been informative, but after seeing the beginning footage presented in a full screen aspect ratio, I could not imagine this movie in any other way.
Regardless of what footage they used, this documentary does what many movies, including those specifically in the documentary genre should do. It encapsulates the meaning of life, and a specific moment in time that may be important to someone. I got the sense that everything that went down on screen was of supreme importance to Sibil. We got a sense of who she was, the people she knew, her personality, and it’s like the movie opened up its arms to allow her into our lives.
Garrett Bradley has done other work in the documentary genre, some of which includes shorts. I have no idea when I will watch any of her other content, even though 2020 has proven that we have plenty of time in this world. However, there are various aspects of “Time” in particular that really show how committed Bradley is to carrying out a singular vision. The movie is done in black and white, it is cleanly edited, the music matches all the edits as well. Honestly, in terms of the final edit, this is probably my favorite documentary of the year. I don’t think any of the documentaries I have seen this year are perfect, but in terms of how “Time” edits and lays out its story from beginning to end, it is easily the most satisfying to watch. It has a major reliance on showing, not telling, one of the most proper principles of visual arts, and it does such a thing very well.
Does this mean I will watch the movie a second time? Probably not. Although it is free with my Prime Video subscription so such thoughts could change. Compared to other movies that came out this year, “Time…” may not stand the test of time. Although I don’t regret seeing it at the same time, because it was an informative, compelling, and engaging story. I cannot believe I’m saying this in 2020, there are other movies that I’d rather watch before this one. I think when it comes to documentaries, it may deserve another shot, because that genre has not really provided anything perfect this year. No, I have not seen Netflix’s “The Social Experiment,” and I don’t plan on watching it.
If I had any real cons against this movie, I’d say that there are some times that maybe I was a little disengaged with specific content. For all I know, maybe it is because I was watching the movie at home on my laptop, where it is a little harder for me to pay attention to what’s going on with all sorts of distractions nearby. There are also a couple scenes that I think go on a little too long. There’s one snippet of archive footage, or b-roll, that could have ended and the impact would have either been slightly better or not made too much of a difference. I won’t go into it, because I went into this movie blind, and I am willing to bet that if I let you do the same, maybe you’ll have an enchanting experience. I don’t know, this is an experiment! I have a degree in Master Film Reviewing! I made that up, and I don’t care! I stand by it!
I will say though, going back to positives, one of my favorite parts about this movie is the way it ends. Not only is the subject matter of the end fulfilling, but it goes to show how well edited and put together this movie is. If the emotions of the ending could not be achieved through visuals, I will guarantee that the audio and music do such an excellent job that MAYBE, you don’t even need to rely on visuals to strike such feelings. Granted, this is a movie, and visuals are perhaps necessary at all times, but it goes to show how much can be achieved through audio. It’s perhaps the most satisfying part of the movie, and made the whole experience worth my time. That’s what every good ending is supposed to do. Well done!
In the end, “Time” is not maybe as timeless as I would expect, but it does not mean the movie blows. In fact, when it comes to documentaries, it is probably my favorite of the year. It encapsulates its story effectively, it pulls you in, and does not let you go. I admired Sibil, her journey, and everything she does throughout this film. She is without any doubt, the heart of the story, and I am glad that her story has been told. I am going to give “Time” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of “The War with Grandpa,” I might end up seeing that by Monday, and I’ll have my thoughts on that soon. I’m looking forward to it, the film looks like it has some laughs. I might go see another movie this weekend, I’m not sure what it will be, but it will likely be something. After all, Massachusetts is now allowing theaters to serve food again, so I’m pretty excited just to get popcorn. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Time?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite documentary of 2020 so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!