“The Truth vs. Alex Jones”


Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10), TMDB.com (8/10)

It’s one thing to question authority and official explanations of highly public events; it’s something else entirely to portray them in a wholly falsified light, especially when done so in a ridiculing manner that causes tremendous personal pain. Such is what happened when conspiracy theorist broadcaster Alex Jones fanatically contended that the December 2012 mass shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School was a staged false flag event aimed at prompting the seizure of the private citizens’ firearms, essentially gutting the guarantees of the Second Amendment. Jones vociferously claimed that the event didn’t happen as reported in the mainstream media, that it was all pulled off with actors and that no one was killed. He openly mocked the public grieving of devastated parents through a relentless campaign of blatant disinformation, effectively enabling him to convince nearly a quarter of the nation’s population into believing his story. Finally, after many anguishing years (including unbridled derision, public ridicule and death threats from disbelieving fanatics and hecklers), those who lost loved ones fought back, filing defamation suits in Jones’s home state of Texas and in Connecticut, site of the tragedy. Documentarian Dan Reed’s latest feature chronicles the events of this troubling story with no-holds-barred candor, capturing the searing pain of the Sandy Hook families, Jones’s cartoonish out-of-control bluster and extensive courtroom footage of the two trials. Shot over four years, the filmmaker effectively captures the crazed ravings of a two-faced, delirious conman whose self-serving self-promotion efforts made P.T. Barnum look like a rank amateur by comparison. But what’s perhaps most unsettling here is the film’s uncompromising depiction of someone who honestly believed he could publicly say whatever he wanted through today’s powerful, far-reaching communications technology – regardless of its truthfulness – and get away with it, a truly potent cautionary tale for our times. “The Truth vs. Alex Jones” poignantly reminds us of the precious nature of freedom of speech and the need to protect it, especially where matters of responsibility are concerned. Indeed, the First Amendment may allow us to express ourselves, but it doesn’t give us license to lie.