The Interrupters - DVD Review

'the success stories that come out of the interrupters' direct action vindicate their methods and demonstrably help to reduce the statistics on show'

In a year already blessed with several outstanding documentaries, The Interrupters feels like the point where some higher God Of Film decided to cut loose and spoil us all rotten. Following three 'violence interrupters' - charity workers with gangland-backgrounds who seek to 'interrupt' violence at its source, before it happens - the film is a year-in-the-life of an outstanding social charity, Ceasefire, who try to do good things on the streets of Chicago.

By the very nature of its subject matter The Interrupters was always going to be emotionally fraught but nothing can quite prepare you for some of the powerful imagery that characterises Steve James' film. When one of the interrupters ends up in hospital his boss, visiting him, can't contain his emotions. At the funeral of a young high school student, his girlfriend gives a powerful tribute, barely delivered through wailing tears. At the graveside of another victim a father sits staring at the ground, on a red camp chair, bought to make his daily vigil a little more comfortable. He barely notices the cameras are there.

Tears are the order of the day in The Interrupters, tears which show just how important the work the charity do is. By taking the novel approach of, you know, just talking to the angry young men and women who make up the shocking statistics of Chicago gun crime (a news report claiming 'nine shot in five hours' introduces the film), Ceasefire provides a viable counterpoint to police arrest after police arrest. Whilst James' film can hardly be described as heart-warming, the success stories that come out of the interrupters' direct action vindicate their methods and demonstrably help to reduce the statistics on show.

James takes time too to get to know the three people who lead the film, interrupters Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra. Each one has a chequered past (Bocanegra has served time for murder) and, as such, the film works as more than just a snapshot of life now. Instead of just an observational look at youth gun crime, James is able to use his three charges to question notions of fate and future; to show young Chicagoans where there lives are headed and where they could head if they divert the course even slightly. The interruption is a welcome one and one that produces a film both fraught of emotion and noble of intention.

The Interrupters is released on DVD in the UK on Monday 5th December 2011.

Look further...

'What could have been a worthy, 'educational' documentary is, in the hands of James, a thoughtful, enlightening and ultimately hopeful insight into the ongoing attempts of largely neglected communities to bring an end, or at least a noticeable reduction, to the crime, drug abuse and sense of despair that threatens to engulf their neighbourhoods.' - The Fourth Wall


  1. I didn't realize this was on DVD yet but now that I know I'll be tracking it down.

  2. It's Monday in the UK but not sure when if you're outside the UK Mike.