'The House I Live In' Review

From 2012, Christopher Campbell briefly reviews Eugene Jarecki's documentary about the prison industrial complex.

The House I Live In

This capsule review of Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In was originally published within a Doc Talk column on Movies.com on October 3, 2012.  

The House I Live In, the new documentary from Eugene Jarecki, the director of Reagan and Why We Fight, is surprisingly subjective, inspired by a personal, lifelong relationship to someone whose life has constantly been tragically affected by the US War on Drugs. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, it’s unlike most issue docs and most first-person films, bringing us through a comprehensive history and contemporary look at the systemic problem of illegal drugs.

It’s both a brilliant investigative piece that somewhat controversially relates the War on Drugs to the Holocaust and a true nonfiction complement to The Wire, complete with extensive commentary from that series’ creator, David Simon. I would love to see this finally earn Jarecki his first Oscar nomination (his brother Andrew shouldn’t be the only one with the honor anyway). Opens this Friday in NYC and next week in L.A. and D.C. with other cities to follow through the fall.

Here’s another bit of praise for the film, from my list of the best documentaries of 2012. This is from the section recognizing the best personal investigation films:

Then there’s The House I Live In, a brilliant address of the systemic issues behind the war on drugs, in which director Eugene Jarecki joins the action on-screen once realizing how the issue has personally affected his life and those close to him.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.