TV Review: The Jinx: The Life and Deaths Of Robert Durst (2015)

Posted: March 28, 2015 in Documentary

the jinx

Chapter 1: A Body in The Bay

Robert Durst is a wealthy real estate scion who is suspected in the murders of his first wife in New York, and the beheading of Morris Black in Texas.

This documentary is chilling.  It seems to underscore what Americans fear most about the judicial system, that wealthy people can and do get away with murder.  Robert Durst is not a nice guy, to say the least, and his conversations with his second wife amplify his despicable attitude. It’s a macabre documentary, much like watching a car accident, but that same gruesome fascination drives me to watch this documentary.

Chapter 2:  Poor Little Rich Boy

Robert Durst talks about the suicide of his mother, and the disappearance and death of his first wife, Kathie.

If the revelation of Durst’s mother’s suicide is an attempt to make Durst appear sympathetic, the rest of the interview with Durst portrays him in a horrible light.  He was standoffish, abusive, and made Kathie have an abortion.  The rest of the episode have interviews with Kathie’s friends family, and police, and they don’t like Durst much either.

Chapter 3:  The Gangster’s Daughter

A cop finds new evidence and re-opens the murder case against Robert Durst.

I’m telling you this story just gets weirder and weirder.  This episode focusses on Durst’s friend Susan Berman, a mobster’s daughter.

From a stylistic point of view, the man who interviews Durst, Andrew Jarecki, is dull.   His questions lack the incisiveness that is required to interview a pathological liar like Durst.  Durst easily swats away the interviewer’s questions like so many pesky mosquitos, and we know no more about the man or his possible guilt than we did before.

Chapter 4:  The State of Texas vs. Robert Durst

Durst faces trial for the murder and dismemberment of his landlord Morris Black.

Durst is infuriating.  The matter of fact way he talks about the death and dismemberment of Morris Black, Durst’s highly paid lawyers, like Dick De Guerrin, who know the legal system can be gamed, are infuriating.  Durst’s testimony,  even his interview answers are highly rehearsed.  While poor people who are innocent await their uncertain fate on death row, Durst glibly spins his tales of innocence.  This documentary is an utter indictment of a legal system badly in need of reform.

Chapter 5: Family Values

This episode features Interviews with the Durst Family, including his brother Douglas, and one of his nephews. Also interviewed is a private detective, who worked for one of Durst’s lawyers.

This episode just piles more doubt on Robert Durst’s story about the murder of his wife, Kathie,  and the murder of Susan Berman.  The Durst family is in denial, and the McCormick family, Kathie’s family, is understandably in pain, lots of pain. The filmmaker tries some ambush tactics with Douglas, which fall flat. One”fun” fact from this episode is that the Durst family controls all money coming from the newly built Freedom Tower.

Chapter 6: The Second Interview

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki conducts one final interview with Robert Durst.

I will say one thing for Jarecki, he did save the best for last.  What comes through most clearly is the immense ego of Robert Durst.  No matter his history, he couldn’t stay away from the camera, and his ego probably sunk him. I still don’t like Jarecki’s interviewing style, but maybe he was playing possum.  Whatever you think of the film or Jarecki’s style, I thank him for bringing Durst out of the woodwork.  He did a lot of people a favor.

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