Time

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Time Movie Poster Image
Powerful, intense doc about wife's fight for her husband.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 81 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes criminal justice reform and awareness of how mass incarceration and unfairly harsh prison sentences (particularly those without parole) destroy lives and unjustly target people of color. Encourages social activism and speaking out against injustice. Promotes empathy, compassion, and perseverance against the odds. Stresses the importance of family and of human connection between prisoners and the outside world.

Positive Role Models

Fox is repentant about her part in the robbery and, after doing her time, she commits herself to speaking to the public and to the families of incarcerated adults to discuss how unfair that sentencing can be and to lobby for Robert's early release. Fox's adult sons are dedicated to the cause of helping their father and to educating themselves and proving that just because their father is in prison doesn't mean they can't study the law, political science, medicine, etc. The documentary follows a Black family, and nearly all of the subjects are Black.

Violence

Discussion of the armed robbery that landed Fox and Robert in prison. A scene in which she apologizes publicly to the bank workers.

Sex

Intimate scene of Fox and Robert's reunion, in which it's clear that they've made love in the back of a limousine. The film shows some of the build up (kissing, him getting on top of her, some soft moans) and the aftermath (he's shirtless, and she's in just a bra), and they're caressing and kissing and staring at one another. Brief nonsexual scenes of a pregnant Fox showing off her growing belly. Fox makes slight innuendoes about how she's primping and getting ready to reunite with Robert.

Language

Occasional strong language includes one clear use of the "N" word (said by Fox to speculate what a racist White person is thinking). Other words used include "retarded," "crazy," "f--k," "f--kin'," "bulls--tting," "ass," "s--t," "freakin'," "goddamn," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief shot of someone vaping/smoking an e-cigarette; photo of teens holding what could be alcoholic drinks.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Time is a documentary that chronicles Louisiana woman Fox Rich's two-decade-long struggle to advocate for an early release for her husband Robert's outrageously punitive prison sentence. It's a powerful and uplifting (albeit occasionally heartbreaking) exploration of how harsh sentencing and mass incarceration affects one family -- and, by extension, people of color. Expect occasional strong language -- including "s--t," "f--k," "retard," and one use of the "N" word -- and discussion of the crime the couple admits they committed. Spoiler: One scene tastefully depicts Fox and Robert's physical reunion, which includes the before-and-after of them making love after his release from prison. The film brings up many issues related to systemic racism, the need for criminal justice reform, and the importance of advocacy, and it promotes activism, empathy, compassion, and perseverance.

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What's the story?

TIME is a documentary about how unfair sentencing, including lack of parole, hurts families. In 1997, Fox and Robert, newly married after a decade and three sons together, lost the primary investors in their small business, a hip-hop-inspired clothing store in Shreveport, Louisiana. Desperate, Fox drove Robert and a nephew to a local bank, where they committed armed robbery (no one was hurt). They were all caught and convicted of armed robbery, and although Fox took a plea deal of 13 years (she was released after 3.5), Robert was sentenced to a staggering 60 years without possibility of parole. After Fox's early release, she spent nearly two decades lobbying for her husband's re-sentencing, amnesty, and release. Director Garrett Bradley weaves in footage of Fox's (as well as her sons') efforts with Fox's personal home video footage. 

Is it any good?

This is an unforgettable documentary about one woman's fight to have her husband released early from an unfair prison sentence. Fox is painfully honest about the couple's crime; this isn't a film like Just Mercy about a wrongful conviction. What Fox wants people to know is that the same brokenness and systemic racism that led Just Mercy's Walter McMillian to sit on Death Row is responsible for all of the overly harsh sentencing that people of color, particularly Black men, still face in the United States' criminal courts. Fox is an absolutely compelling subject: She's so smart and so fiercely devoted to her husband and their sons, many of whom are in college and graduate school, flying in the face of statistics related to success rates for children of incarcerated adults.

Fox and director Bradley are clearly collaborators in the documentary, with Fox's personal home videos offering a lot to the story. There are a few questions that do go unanswered or unaddressed: How do Fox and Robert have such a young son if Robert has been incarcerated for so long, and what happened to the nephew involved in the robbery? The latter issue is particularly revelant, because there have to be extenuating circumstances related to why Rich isn't advocating for her nephew's early release. It's also somewhat underexplained how Fox ended up with such a relatively short sentence compared to Robert's, even if she was just the getaway driver. Those issues aside, there's so much to appreciate and reflect upon in Time, which will make viewers think not just about the time Robert served but the time he and his family have lost.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Time portrays incarcerated people and their families. Do you think Fox and Robert's family is unique? Why did Fox succeed when so many others do not?

  • What did you learn from the film about the justice system's pitfalls? What do you think Fox and her mother mean when they say prison is the new slavery? 

  • How is Fox a role model? Why are compassion, empathy, and perseverance important character strengths?

Movie details

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