Top critical review
An interesting documentary, with some glaring flaws.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 26, 2016
While the documentary was well produced, with a nice professional sheen to it, it tended to fall into the 'short attention span' trap of modern media. Few interview segments were presented in anything longer than ten second chunks, often vacillating back and forth between multiple people talking about similar aspects of the story. I get it - this can help to tie narratives together when they represent disparate perceptions - but it also tends to be fatiguing. The presentation of identifying titles of the speakers was also very inconsistent - the gorgeous African American Phd in purple garb was identified sometimes, but later in the documentary she was presented frequently but left unidentified. With a 'cast of characters' of interviewees as large as were presented - and in such short segments - for the life of me I couldn't recall her name, which was frustrating as I wanted to learn more about her work.
I was also disappointed with how little actual photographic record was presented of Ruby herself. 99% of the representations of her were actor re-enactments. Certainly, I don't know whether there simply were no photos of Ruby to be found, but I think it should have been noted as part of the story, frankly. It was certainly very, very common for folks to maintain family photo albums in that era, if not having scattered random photos here and there to refer to. As best I can recall, there were only two, maybe four separate photos of Ruby shown in the entire documentary. Again - I can't fault the producers for that without knowing if there simply were none available.
One other thing that was maddening for its irony - there was a pointed bit of focus on the reporter who 'became part of the story', and the mention that doing so is an unwritten cardinal sin among journalists....and how does the documentary end? With the director and producer inserting themselves directly into the story, when they met up with McCollum Jr. Seriously? All due respect, the ego represented in those final minutes pretty much killed any enthusiasm I had for those responsible for this doc. Did you not see the irony? Producers and directors *are behind the camera*, not just in fiction and drama, but definitely in documentaries that are not about _you_.
A real shame. Just those few minutes at the end turned me off hugely. Hubris.