It takes a truly special documentary to be able to feel so intimate, and so entwined with one family’s experiences, and yet also to be something which speaks to the experiences of so many people; Time is one such documentary.

With footage spanning two decades, Time follows Fox Richardson as she fights for the release of her husband Rob, who is serving a 60 year sentence in prison for armed robbery. The film wisely chooses to focus on the fight for justice, rather than the details of the crime itself; the withholding of information about the crime in fact feels like a very deliberate choice as it cements the fact that the sentence Rob is serving is unjust for this crime. Instead, the focus is on the strength and resilience of his wife, fighting for him from the other side.

The title of the film also represents the thematic duality of what we see unfold. It handles both the passage of time in the way it blends both historic home video and present-day shot footage, and the idea of “doing time”, the well-known phrase for those imprisoned. With the mixture of footage used, the time spent with this family feels palpable. We see the kids go from babies to adults, and the world changing around them. Despite the fact Time is about a massive injustice, that would likely make anyone feel angry, the film carries itself with a remarkable grace and poise, reflecting and meditating on what “time” means, and the sense of time slipping away, and that all adds to the weight of the families struggle.

As the audience, it is almost impossible to imagine what Fox Richardson is going through, being separated from her husband and High School sweetheart for 20 years. We feel angry and upset on her behalf, and yet the way she carries herself throughout the film is nothing short of remarkable. Instead of being anger and bitter, she is gentle and loving, focusing on raising her sons right, and crucially, never giving up on her husband.

You can feel the love and warmth of Fox permeating through every frame of this incredible documentary. We see her use her struggle to help others, talking to other women whose husbands are incarcerated, and using her platform to try to bring about reform so that others don’t have to suffer what she did. There is one moment however where she lets her guard down slightly and curses in anger, yet it feels cathartic and more than earned, especially given that as a viewer you’ve probably been cursing on her behalf this whole time. What follows however is true testament to her strength, she steadies herself, breathes, and is immediately onto the next pragmatic thing that needs to be done. 

With the present-day footage being shot in gorgeous black and white to match the home video footage, the film creates a very personal lens, demonstrating that all that we’re seeing is part of one family’s story. In a way, it feels like the film as a whole is a gift to the family, something they can treasure and look back on as they use their experiences to help others. 

Director Garrett Bradley

Time is an unforgettable and intimate snapshot of one family, showing immeasurable resilience whilst suffering at the mercy of a criminal justice system in desperate need of reform. Whilst this is just one story, it is one which is experienced by so many, and giving everything in the news in 2020 as well, it has never felt more potent. Beautifully shot, this tender and achingly compassionate film is a true gem. I cried, I raged, and I cried some more, and I loved every moment of it.

Rating: ★★★★★

Time is available on Amazon Prime from October 16 2020.