Synopsis: Fox Rich fights for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year sentence in prison
Stars: Fox Rich
Director: Garrett Bradley
Running Length: 81 minutes
TMMM Score: (7.5/10)
Review: There’s always that one person at parties that’s either snapping pictures or taking video constantly. They aim to document the whole thing and I sometimes wonder why they aren’t there in the moment and watching what’s happening in front of them instead of seeing it all through a camera lens. The way that social media works, everyone has photographic or video documentation of much of their lives and while that may be a bit of a nuisance now, in five or ten or twenty years we may look back and be thankful we have those artifacts to tell our story. Just like we do now with the stacks of memory cards, movie files, DVDs, VHS, or 35mm films that families have taken throughout the past six decades, these are evidence of the way we’ve grown and thrived, lived and loved, won and lost.
That’s what I often think of when I see documentaries such as Time, new to Amazon Prime from director Garrett Bradley. Using an incredible amount of footage gathered from author and motivational speaker Fox Rich who has spent the last twenty years trying to get her husband out of prison after he was sentenced to 60 years without parole for a failed bank robbery, Time chronicles her life as a single mother raising six children. The black and white feature uses this footage and newly shot material from the latest appeal for the release of Rob Rich to give viewers an insight into where this family came from, how they got to be in the situation they found themselves in, and what they’ve done for two decades to turn things around. Imperfections, frustrations, successes, steps forward, set-backs, difficult decisions, and forgiveness are all discussed in a powerfully compact run time that lays bare one woman’s truth and the children that have grown up in the shadow of a man they’ve never really known.
High school sweethearts, Rob and Fox Rich had dreams of opening their own clothing store but ran into difficult times keeping their business afloat. With hungry mouths at home to feed and more on the way, the couple were part of an unsuccessful attempt to rob a bank that landed them both behind bars. Accepting a plea agreement, Fox served a reduced sentence but refusing to plead guilty, Rob was given the maximum sentence without the possibility of parole. The first five minutes of Bradley’s film are a dizzying blur of home video images showing Fox and her children when they still held out hope Rob would return in short order. We see Fox talking to another mother and telling her that Rob is “out of town” when questioned and another showing her reminding her young son to behave in school. Doing the double duty work of both parents, Fox is already on her way to raising the children on her own and the title card hasn’t even shown up yet.
Then we jump to now with Fox filming a commercial for her car rental business and we see she’s just as in control of the situation as she was twenty years prior. The children are grown with some in college and others making successful strides in school. Another appeal for Rob is looming and this is a big one. This may grant him a meeting before the parole board where he could make a case for early release…and finally some hope returns to the Rich family. Channeling her energy over the years into becoming a motivational speaker so that she can help others avoid the same path she found herself on, we hear Fox tell of her deep emotional connection with her husband and what the time apart has meant for their relationship. Bradley also wisely includes more footage from the past where Fox makes amends at her church (a striking moment) as well as conversations with Fox’s mother. The filmmakers interviews with the mother are some of the most telling in the film, make sure to watch her even when she isn’t speaking but only in the background of shots toward the end of the movie. How she observes her daughter and grandchildren are revealing.
The movie does falter a bit anytime is strays into territory where it suggests Fox was somehow a victim and it skates a thin line at times in asking you to forget that she did in fact commit a crime. Her mother is the one to bring it back to reality though, by reminding the director (and us in the process) that she did do it and we should remember that. She’s done her time and should be able to go on with her life like she has, becoming a success story, but the focus feels better when it stays on her crusade on behalf of her husband and the strong bond they have that hasn’t faded over the years. How it all comes out, you’ll have to see for yourself, but any resolution was bound to be some kind of emotionally jarring one Time leaves us with.