Thursday, December 01, 2016

TV Review - The Jinx

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Directed by Andrew Jarecki
***This series is currently streaming via HBO***

Having heard great things about the six-part documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, I figured I'd give this HBO series a go despite the fact that I knew about the big bombshell it manages to drop (which I will discuss below, so be warned).  In the end, the documentary feels too long-winded to prove totally successful and ends on a disappointingly unfinished note (particularly if you're already aware of the aforementioned bombshell going in), but I still found myself intrigued by the story of the rich New York socialite Robert Durst and the crimes he has been accused of committing.

In 2010, director Andrew Jarecki released his fictional film All Good Things which was based on the life of Robert Durst, the son of a real estate mogul in NYC, who was passed over as head of his father's company in favor of his younger brother.  Robert was intrigued by the film that focused on his life and he contacted Jarecki and offered to be interviewed about the crime depicted in the director's film.  Much like the movie, Durst's wife Kathie had gone missing in 1982 and while Durst was thought by friends to be connected to his wife's disappearance, the police and district attorneys could never get enough evidence to garner a warrant.  Cut to decades later in 2001 and Durst finds himself living in a seedy house in Texas where he gets accused and placed on trial for killing and dismembering his elderly next door neighbor.  Durst is rather shockingly acquitted of the crime, but still finds himself dealing with the looming notion that he killed his wife.

That looming notion ends up being at the heart of director Jarecki's six-part miniseries The Jinx.  Jarecki started out his documentary as perhaps just a glimpse at an eccentric character who may or may not have been responsible for his wife's death.  At the very least, Jarecki saw the opportunity to craft a series around a man who had obviously been accused of doing a great many horrible things.  However, as his investigation into Robert Durst grows deeper, his interviews with people at the heart of Kathie's disappearance (as well as the Texas death) cause Jarecki to "go detective" and attempt to determine whether Durst really did kill his wife as so many of their close friends believed.

Unfortunately, The Jinx suffers from being about two episodes too long with the whole proceeding feeling rather drawn out.  That's not to say that the in-depth look at Robert Durst isn't's just it could've been more effective had it been a little more taut.  In addition, I found Jarecki's ending to be disappointing.  Jarecki held onto the ending - which SPOILER ALERT has Durst seemingly admitting to the crime - until it aired on HBO last year, keeping the big reveal a secret from even the cops.  Because of this, there's no resolution to the six hours we've seen prior.  We don't know whether Durst gets his comeuppance or whether he walks away scott free.  (Durst has also been accused of another murder of his close friend for which he was recently charged in California.)  It proved to be a let down after I had given so much time to the story.  Had I watched it live, I may have been blown away, but watching it so many months after and knowing "the big reveal" left me wanting more to come after that "big reveal."  In the end, I think I have to reluctantly not recommend The Jinx despite the fact that I rather enjoyed it while watching.

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