Crown Heights

Crown Heights

Director: Matt Ruskin
Running Time: 99 minutes

This film had its final screening at The Nightlight on September 28, 2017.

Crown Heights tells a timely, fact-based tale of wrongful incarceration.

An uncaring system putting blameless men behind bars has been a cinematic staple as far back as Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man and likely further. But few examples have been as effective as the fact-based Crown Heights.

Winner of Sundance's coveted audience award in dramatic competition, Crown Heights is adapted from an episode of public radio's "This American Life" and named after the Brooklyn neighborhood where its main characters live and work.

As written and directed by Matt Ruskin, the film is finely balanced between two parallel sets of astonishments. One that an innocent man, Colin Warner, could spend 20 years in prison after being handed a potential life sentence on the flimsiest of evidence.

The other, equally amazing, is that people who loved and believed in Warner fought for years against inertia and crushing difficulty to get him out. What the good people do is as powerful as the bad here, and that makes all the difference.

Crown Heights has also been fortunate that the power of its narrative attracted committed actors who effectively convey its essence. Asomugha, a former NFL star, is excellent as the best friend who simply would not give up. Paul is just as strong as an old flame who reenters Warner's life. But the best work, as it would have to be, is Stanfield's on-fire performance as the man inside.

~~ Kenneth Turan,