One Year in a Life of Crime Film Details
Overview: Documentary maker Jon Alpert follows three petty criminals in Newark. Filmed by a hidden camera, the three are stealing, using drugs, getting caught and convicted.
Review: If you think reality TV is interesting (i.e. American Idol, Survivor, etc.) then you haven’t seen anything yet. ‘One Year in a Life of Crime’ goes behind the scenes in the lives of some small time crooks / drug users, and their friends and families. The subjects must have been paid to allow such cooperation and such access to accompany them in everything they do. We and the cameraman go with them as they pack up bags with stolen goods and take them right out of the store. We ride with them as they leave the kids behind and drive down the block to shoot up or get high. We’re there as one of them slaps his pregnant girlfriend around. As strong as this content is none of it is gratuitous. This is life the way these people live it. They bum money off of friends and family, live wherever they can, they have ups and downs, but their basic attitude towards life, and being trapped by drug habits, keeps putting them back behind the eight ball (no pun). One of them, Rob, gets a job watching a used car lot and he can live on the premises. He goes out for the night and leaves the lot unattended, and cars are stolen so he loses his job. Freddie is a junkie and a friend of Rob’s, joining him in stealing and drug use; at the end of part 2 (more later) he finds out he is now HIV positive from sharing needles. Freddie’s girlfriend Deliris is addicted to various drugs and has lost custody of her own children. She shoots up and then becomes agitated; we are with her as she walks around in the rain compulsively looking for lost money on the ground. It is heartbreaking to see her school photos, of a young and healthy-looking woman who has now turned into this wreck of a person. Mike is a young tough who thinks he has the answer to everything but he ends up jumping bail and going to jail after hiding out trying to avoid being caught. These are some sad, pathetic people who are taking their lives and actively throwing them away. Watching this program and seeing just how some people live, makes you realize how dangerous and easy it is to become hooked on drugs and waste your life. At the end of the second program (there was a second part made some years later than the first) we see Rob back on the streets, buying drugs and stumbling around until he completely passes out in a vacant lot among some trash. Someone at the scene is saying ‘there’s Rob, he’s probably going to die right here one of these days.’ I guess from what another reviewer said, that is what happened. Chances are the only one of these people who is still alive is Mike, and that is because he spent a lot of time in jail before he managed to ruin his health with drugs. The others, I would guess, have all passed on based on their habits and condition several years ago already. This program is a chilling view of a life none us would want to live, but which is day to day reality for far too many people. It is worth a watch just to know what that kind of life is like.
Duration: 55 min
Genre: Documentary, Crime
Also known as: One Year in a Life of Crime