Monday, June 27, 2016

O.J.: Made in America Review


Ah screw it. I believe it so I am just going to say the words: O.J.: Made in America is the best documentary I have ever seen. I have watched tremendous docs in the past, some that have resonated with me for years after watching (looking at you, Dear Zachary), but nothing has ever been this carefully and perfectly constructed before. This is 7 and a half hours of the most compelling filmmaking I have seen in quite some time, brought to the screen by producer and director Ezra Edelman. I can't help but wonder if he had any idea just how incredible of an achievement he was piecing together during the process.

Utilizing interviews and a ton of real footage, we are told a story that revolves around O.J. Simpson but covers so much more along the way. During the early portions of the film I couldn't help but take notice that a lot of time was being spent on racial tension and police brutality and society as a whole with very little mention of Simpson, but not a single moment lacks relevancy for the entire thematic weight of this project. Even if it seems to stray from what you might have expected turning on a film about the infamous murder case many of us remember so vividly, every moment matters. Every second is perfectly calculated and ties into a bigger picture systemic situation that made me realize all along I have been asking the wrong question for 20 years, but I will get back to that later.

What really works about this movie is that it plays to everyone, regardless of your prior knowledge of O.J. as a person or the horrific murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. I recall my mother being highly invested in the case when it was going on, and I was 10 years old so easily able to absorb much of what was being shown and said and those memories have stuck with me. Despite this, with the way this film lays out all of the puzzle pieces and then slowly pieces them together and the depths at which they cover it all, everything felt new. Even when I shouldn't have been surprised, I was sitting there in awe of just how immersed I was in the entire experience, and that is thanks a supreme understanding of how to tell the whole story through careful planning and then utilizing editing as a narrative weapon.

If you know nothing or at least only the basics heading into this doc though, O.J.: Made in America will sweep you off your god damn feet. At this moment it's the best film I have seen this year and I had the knowledge going in. I am jealous of anyone who is shocked by every strange twist and unsettling turn throughout the course of this real life masterpiece, a brilliant examination of the domino effect that can happen in society when hundreds of years of prejudice, injustice and abuse can ripple through all the way until the tragic moment when a famous, beloved black man has the blood of two white people on his hands on June 12th, 1994. The course of the trial was determined before it even began, but no one could see it until it was too late.

Earlier I mentioned how I have been asking the wrong question for 20 years. Prior to watch O.J.: Made in America, I had always asked how it was possible that he could have gotten away with those murders. Now I can't help but wonder if there was ever even the slightest chance he would be convicted. The deck was stacked against the prosecution from day one, but eventually that house of cards was doomed to fall.



  1. Wow, that isn't the review I expected when I was checking the site. I just figured it would be another typical documentary. Intriguing.

    1. Honestly, the best documentary I have ever seen. I checked Metacritic after I watched it, and the 96/100 is warranted. If you get the chance, I watched it for free by downloading the Watch ESPN app, it's all on there and it is separated into 5 90ish minute episodes.