Scenes of a Crime

The absorbing and provocative docu deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand.

With:
With: Adrian Thomas, Adam Mason, Ronald Fountain.

Far removed from the rat-a-tat repartee of a scripted TV procedural, the absorbing and provocative docu “Scenes of a Crime” deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand. As they did in their 2003 debut, “A Certain Kind of Death,” helmers Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock borrow liberally from the Errol Morris nonfiction playbook; as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it would be a crime if the pic didn’t earn fest and tube slots.

Late on a September 2008 evening, a man named Adrian Thomas walked into an interview room at the Troy, N.Y., police station. Though he was suspected of beating his infant son to death, the pair of detectives assigned the case readily admit they didn’t know how the child had died, but didn’t want to risk losing the man they perceived as the prime suspect. To that end, they browbeat the apparently mild-mannered Thomas to the point where he signed a confession and collapsed in exhaustion.

Relying primarily on the key passages from the two-part interrogation, Hadaegh and Babcock use this shocking visual evidence as a springboard to explore a link in the chain of American justice that is little understood, largely unregulated and dangerously abused. In interviews with the blustery and defensive detectives, players in the subsequent trial, experts in the field and, ultimately, Thomas himself, a series of twists and surprises muddy the waters even further.

Tech package is smooth and stylish, balancing the crude, fixed-camera interrogation footage with animation that underscores the oppressiveness of the rooms that encompass the scenes of this chaotically managed and far from conclusive crime.

Scenes of a Crime

Production: A New Box production, presentation. Produced by Blue Hadaegh, Grover Babcock. Directed by Blue Hadaegh, Grover Babcock.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), David Elkins, Brian Mulchy; editor, Robert DeMaio; sound, Michael Kowalski. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, June 23, 2011. (In SilverDocs Film Festival -- Silver Spectrum.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With: With: Adrian Thomas, Adam Mason, Ronald Fountain.

More Film

  • 'Jumanji' Box Office: Film to Top

    Box Office: 'Jumanji' to Beat '12 Strong,' 'Den of Thieves' for Top Slot

    Far removed from the rat-a-tat repartee of a scripted TV procedural, the absorbing and provocative docu “Scenes of a Crime” deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand. As they did in their 2003 debut, “A Certain Kind of […]

  • 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far

    Sundance Film Review: 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot'

    Far removed from the rat-a-tat repartee of a scripted TV procedural, the absorbing and provocative docu “Scenes of a Crime” deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand. As they did in their 2003 debut, “A Certain Kind of […]

  • Juliette Binoche Slack Bay

    Juliette Binoche Receives UniFrance's French Cinema Award

    Far removed from the rat-a-tat repartee of a scripted TV procedural, the absorbing and provocative docu “Scenes of a Crime” deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand. As they did in their 2003 debut, “A Certain Kind of […]

  • The Catcher Was A Spy Sundance

    Sundance Film Review: 'The Catcher Was a Spy'

    Far removed from the rat-a-tat repartee of a scripted TV procedural, the absorbing and provocative docu “Scenes of a Crime” deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand. As they did in their 2003 debut, “A Certain Kind of […]

  • 'The Kindergarten Teacher' Review

    Sundance Film Review: 'The Kindergarten Teacher'

    Far removed from the rat-a-tat repartee of a scripted TV procedural, the absorbing and provocative docu “Scenes of a Crime” deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand. As they did in their 2003 debut, “A Certain Kind of […]

  • 'Juliet, Naked' Review: Ethan Hawke, Rose

    Sundance Film Review: 'Juliet, Naked'

    Far removed from the rat-a-tat repartee of a scripted TV procedural, the absorbing and provocative docu “Scenes of a Crime” deploys some 10 videotaped hours of intense and often bizarre interrogation footage to document a seemingly routine police investigation spinning absurdly out of hand. As they did in their 2003 debut, “A Certain Kind of […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content