Friday, July 6, 2012

The Interrupters

Documentarian Steve James follows three ex-gang members who go out into the volatile neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago in efforts to prevent further violence which has engulfed it. As part of an intervention group known as CeaseFire, James captures these efforts over the course of a year that saw the city's violence spotlighted on the international stage, surrounding the beating death of high schooler Derrion Albert by his own classmates. Like his masterful "Hoop Dreams", James has a knack here for being in the right place at the right time (or rather the wrong place at the right time) and again captures seemingly improbable footage alongside some very human moments. The three subjects, the daughter of a famous gang leader, a young man wracked with guilt, and another who has settled comfortably into suburban life, are all engaging, honest about their past life, and pragmatic about their current occupations. "The Interrupters" does a solid job of staring the epidemic of gang violence in the face, and although I appreciated the courage and nobility of the members of CeaseFire, I questioned the group's usefulness as what is depicted during the lengthy film is a series of very minor victories.