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MOVIE REVIEW: A telling and cautionary documentary - EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL

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For an introspective and reflective movie-going experience look no further than EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL.

An autobiographical documentary infused with stylized recreations, EVOLUTION OF A CRIMNIAL is the story of Darius Clark Monroe who, at age 16, robbed a Bank of America in Houston, Texas. An honors student taking AP classes, Darius was popular, well-liked by fellow classmates and teachers alike, and more importantly, had a supportive and loving family. The future was his for the taking, complete with college and whatever career path he chose. Never having been in any kind of trouble, it came as a surprise when Darius saw crime as the only means to help his impoverished family.

Worried for his mother and his family and their ever-increasing impoverished financial situation, Monroe took it upon himself to help those he loved. So together with the help of two friends, he robbed a Houston-based Bank of America. Surprising was that Darius was tried as an adult, thus exposed to sentencing of up to 99 years in prison for seven counts of aggravated robbery and seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Entering into a plea bargain, Darius was sentenced to five years starting in 1998.

Serving three years of those five years before being released, with EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL, Darius Monroe, now an NYU film student, looks back not only his crime, but comes face-to-face with people who were in the bank during the robbery, capturing raw pure emotion in interviews not only with them, but with his family and the two friends that aided and abetted in the crime. Revealing are commentaries by Monroe’s professors and particularly his mother when asked why she didn’t turn Monroe into the police when he handed her all of his ill-gotten gains. Hopeful and inspiring is Darius himself whose understanding of the "ripple effect" and "cause and effect" of his impetuous youthful indiscretion has helped him now become the good man he is today.

Devoid of sugar-coating or the rose-colored lenses so frequently found with a documentary of this nature, Darius Clark Monroe is brutally honest with the audience, his victims and more importantly, himself. Unfettered lensing by cinematographer Daniel Patterson adds to the straightforwardness and honesty that permeates EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL.

Taking full responsibility for his actions, making apologies and addressing his own moral compass, in EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL Darius Clark Monroe delivers a brave and telling autobiographical documentary that is as cathartic for him and his victims as it is cautionary to the audience. A stand-out film for a young man who has become a stand-up filmmaker.

Written and Directed by Darius Clark Monroe

(Los Angeles Film Festival 2014 review)

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