Garret Bradley’s Time is fashioned together from over two decades’ worth of footage. Part of it comes from the main subject herself; Sibil Rich initially created home videos as a way to visually document her time apart from her husband, who has been serving time for a 1997 armed robbery. What filmmaker Bradley has done in shrewdly piecing together those intimate moments with Sibil’s current push of activism to free him after 20 years becomes a potent exploration of rage, determination, unrequited love and, yes, lost time.
As the forceful presence in virtually every scene, Sibil is a magnificent person that gives the film a powerful presence as she speaks to groups, raises her children, or simply holds her tongue in extreme long takes as she’s forced to deal with bureaucratic turgidness on a daily basis. She is a determined woman….. determined to free her husband and provide a family for her sons. Time rules out almost everything else in her life. It’s a film singularly focused on her tireless purpose.
And, the other refreshing part of the film is that no one disputes the reasons why her husband, Robert, landed in jail in the first place. In fact, Sibil herself served a short bit of time as an accomplice to the robbery-gone-awry when the couple decided to take drastic measures to improve their financial situation.
The questions poised here have to do with racial inequality and prison reform. It also asks why they were railroaded by their initial counsel, which advised them to forgo a plea deal and take it to court, wherein Robert received the maximum 60 years, or how another lawyer years later took Sibil’s $15,000 and then failed to do anything.
With those (legal) injustices aside, Sibil decided her best course of action was to document everything, raising media awareness wherever she could and never give up. Time observes her day-to day, plus portions dedicated to several of her children, who are excelling in school and careers. It’s a family portrait shaded in black-and-white cinematography that is anything but those static colors.
Running at a short 80 minutes, Time packs plenty into its compact running time. And without spoiling too much, it winds down to such an unexpected moment that the film feels epic. I recently wrote about Miles Hargroves’ Miracle Fishing, which is another film that uses a mountain’s worth of home video footage to document lost time amongst a family. It’s hard to be rolling for every single thing, and both films features a blast of emotion that begins with the “on” button, literally taking our breathe away with the consequences happening on screen. This is life lived and observed.
Time opens in limited theatrical release today (Friday, October 9). It will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video as of Friday, October 16.