Presented as a portrait of the human toll of incarceration and the frustrations with the snail’s pace of the legal system, Garrett Bradley’s Time shows one woman’s attempts to persevere and keep her family together after making a terrible choice.
Sibil “Fox” Richardson is fighting for her husband Rob to be released from prison. In 1997, both Fox and Rob participated in an armed robbery of a credit union where Fox served as the getaway driver. They were caught and sentence to prison. While Fox served three-and-a-half years, Rob was given a 60-year sentence without the possibility of parole.
There is no question of guilt for Fox and Rob. Fox freely admits they did what they did on purpose and out of desperation to save their fledgling New Orleans business. Following Fox’s release, her priority is to keep her family together and make a life for her boys while fighting for her husband’s release.
The film cuts between the black-and-white footage of thousands of hours of home videos Fox made throughout the years and the current documentary of Fox’s attempts at securing Rob’s release. In the meantime, Fox has become a motivational speaker, author and self-described abolitionist. Her sons also attempt to navigate living a life without a father while trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
Fox is a complex protagonist who can come across as self-indulgent and pompous, but it doesn’t make her any less riveting. Watching her evolution from fresh-faced young mother in the videotapes to hardened woman of the world is fascinating to behold. Her sons prove her worth as they bellow respectability and class while quietly supporting their mother.
Time is the lens through which everything is presented. When Fox is on the phone with a judges office, the camera languishes on her waiting on hold or waiting for the people on the other end to do their job. Fox’s restraint is ever apparent until she finally does blow up. After dozens of calls to a judge’s secretary ends in another stalled effort, Fox puts everything in perspective. While some people are “just doing their jobs” and “these things take time” the other end of the phone is waiting in constant pain for some sort of relief.
Presented as a comment on the state of our criminal justice system, there are plenty of holes in the narrative. Fox’s mother gives a brief explanation for why Fox received a small sentence compared to Rob, but there are no other sources to back anything up. It is never explained why Rob faced such a harsh penalty. Additionally, the efforts that Fox brings to attempt to get Rob released are unclear. Their guilt is never in doubt, but the mitigating circumstances are left up in the air.
Time is a valiant attempt to show the people behind these random court cases and show just how much the criminal justice system attempts to separate people from their humanity. I just wish there was more to be upset about.