'Evolution of a Criminal': A bank robber turned auteur looks back

November 7, 2014 1:29 PM

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Few documentaries are as personal as Darius Clark Monroe's moving "Evolution of a Criminal," in which the filmmaker turns his camera on himself and members of his family to retell a painful story. As a 16-year-old honor student, Monroe and two friends robbed a local bank at gunpoint. No one was hurt (the gun, he says, wasn't loaded); nonetheless, Monroe was convicted and served three years in prison. Now in his early 30s and an MFA film-school graduate, Monroe returned to his hometown to interview his parents, his relatives, law-enforcement officials and the two other young men involved in the crime.

The resulting film, which intersperses interview footage with an artfully filmed re-enactment of the robbery, is a thoughtful, gripping exploration of the mindset of a 16-year-old boy. We hear about how Monroe's hardworking parents, barely making ends meet, were "broken" by a robbery of their own ho...

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