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Parents' Guide to

A Crime on the Bayou

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Harsh language in powerful documentary about racism.

Movie NR 2021 89 minutes
A Crime on the Bayou Poster Image

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Somewhat rambling and roundabout, this documentary nevertheless zeroes in on distinct heroes and villains and tells a powerful, important story, the reverberations of which still linger. At the outset, A Crime on the Bayou promises that this is Gary Duncan's story, but Duncan -- who's still alive and contributed interviews -- only appears in a small fraction of the finished movie. His few scenes are amazingly effective, but he could have been a stronger and more emotional part of the film, especially given the deep friendship he formed with Sobol (a detail that is, mystifyingly, kept hidden until the end).

Apart from drifting into asides about Hurricane Betsy, clips from the great 1948 documentary Louisiana Story, and distracting music by Miles Davis, Randy Newman, and others, A Crime on the Bayou does land on some interesting discussions, especially by fellow civil rights lawyer Armand Derfner -- even if they don't always relate specifically to the matter at hand. When focusing on Duncan, Sobol, and Perez, however, the film has an undeniable pull. Sobol (who died in April of 2020 after completing his interviews) comes across as a humble hero, while Perez (who died in 1969) is the vilest of villains. Directed by Nancy Buirski, the movie's message of tolerance is righteously clear -- and still timely.

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