Movie review: The Interrupters

Originally published in City Pages, April 13, 2011

If it isn’t part of your daily existence, Chicago’s recent epidemic of street violence is the kind of domestic issue that can seem just as distant as the revolutions in the Middle East. Hoop Dreams director Steve James‘s latest documentary spans that distance by placing viewers at the epicenter of the killings and introducing us to a host of people who are undeniably heroic yet unmistakably human. James captures an astounding amount of drama, frustration, and redemption over one tumultuous year with Chicago’s CeaseFire, a community action group dedicated to defusing confrontations before violence erupts. The titular Interrupters are former gang members, felons, and convicted killers whose knowledge and street cred helps them connect with kids wary of more traditional authorities. Upsetting, uplifting, and packed with characters twice as compelling as those in even the best crime fiction, The Interrupters shines a much-needed light on America’s tragic war at home. —Ira Brooker

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