“17 Blocks”


Metacritic (8/10), Rotten Tomatoes (****)

Culled from 20 years of raw video footage, this up-close look at a Washington, DC family afflicted by the perils of drug addiction and gun violence examines the challenges of dealing with temptation, fending off negative influences and seeking redemption. In doing so, this gripping documentary tells a story of questionable choices, profound heartbreak and the search for inspiration to turn things around. While the film sometimes comes across as a slice of life vehicle at the outset, it definitely grows stronger with the passage of time, presenting material that’s increasingly more involving and heartrending as it proceeds. Director Davy Rothbart’s sensitive but uncensored look at a family in crisis deservedly earned a 2020 Independent Spirit Award nomination for the competition’s Truer Than Fiction Award, a quality that comes through loud and clear in this engaging offering.