Is Robert Durst a sociopath who has been slipping through the cracks of justice with his lies and money or is he truly the most unlucky person in the world–always in the wrong place at the wrong time? A Jinx? The HBO Docu-series, ‘The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst’, ended this past Sunday night and I’m sure you’ve read plenty of headlines since. I won’t be commenting on what has happened post show or how the filmmakers’ timelines must have played out. I’ll be writing about the cinematic excellence of this six part series. Move over ‘Serial’, here comes ‘The Jinx’.
The incredible tension, excitement, and viewer obsession is derived from the bizarre story.
Born into an incredibly wealthy, New York City real estate family–as tumultuous as any of the tv show clans we love to hate–Robert Durst’s concept of consequence is completely skewed. Starting with his most recent crime, the documentary then jumps to the
beginning to Durst’s timeline. In 1982, his wife, Katie McCormack, went missing under mysterious circumstances. Her body was never found. The obviousness of this man’s crimes are overshadowed by his ability to never be convicted for them–a microcosm for our justice system as a whole. Is he actually guilty? Most likely yes. Is he guilty? Not with the evidence on file. Lawyers were paid, cops made mistakes, and murdering sociopaths go free. This is ‘Dateline’ on crack.
As a person who knew very little of the history of this lifelong liar, I was sucked in immediately. Producer and director, Andrew Jarecki (‘Capturing the Friedmans’), has crafted an intense, (semi) non-biased recounting of the history of Durst and the crimes that have become his legacy. Jarecki was contacted by Robert Durst and asked to be interviewed on the subject of his life after seeing Jarecki’s film ‘All Good things’, which is based on Durst’s first wife’s disappearance. It’s an insane idea, but maybe it came from an insane person looking for attention? Or was he trying to actually explain his side of the story? Who knows what his motivation was to finally speak out publicly. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that we get to watch in a beautifully put together piece.
Along with the show’s Durst interview centerpiece, Jarecki allows for the facts, people, and history to speak for themselves. It’s just that all of the facts, people, and history point to Durst. The eerie, faceless re-enactment B-Roll and ominous editing all supplement the true insanity of the life of Durst. The music and opening credits sequence supports this too. The docudrama is sleekly put together, regardless of the third and fourth episodes’ penchant for dragging. (These don’t heavily feature mystery or interviews with Durst.)
Aside from the pulse pounding, breath stealing, adrenaline rush of a last 10 minutes of the final hour, what I really took away from this series is the pain and perseverance of the people affected by the terrible crimes of Durst. The lives of the friends, family, and law enforcement that were directly involved in all of Dursts’ (unproven) wrong doings have been turned upside down without answers. If you look at their body language, peer into their eyes, and listen to the anger and sadness in their voices, you can feel their all-consuming frustration with the justice system and Dursts’ inability to get caught. As viewers, we want answers so badly. These people have desperately needed them for years.
Okay, fine, I’ll talk about the last 10 minutes with spoilers. SPOILER ALERT. The last episode pandered and dealt with the ethics of the filmmaker, who had to confront Durst with the new letter evidence. I mean, that hand writing? That misspelled word? The burping? The blinking? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that last two minutes of this program. “What the hell did I do?” He whispers to himself in the bathroom, forgetting his hot microphone. “Killed them all, of course.” Woah. This possible bathroom confession is one of the most insane, amazing moments on television. Robert Durst was willing gave these men an interview. He has no ability for apathy or sympathy and therefore lying comes easy to him. (Apparently, he even wore contacts that enlarge his pupils to make him come off as more innocent.) At this point, does he even believe that he did it? Obviously, yes based on his bathroom words. He just can’t keep it together long enough to not leave a mark. He may very well have been talking to the voices inside his head. Then again, a little part of him may have wanted to be secretly caught. Well, he perhaps got what he wanted.
Please, do yourself a favor and watch this if you haven’t.
Keep on Watchin’!