The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

jinx the life and death of robert durst poster
9.5 Overall Score

Amazing study with shocking moments caught on tape

Raises some ethical questions involving evidence

jinx-the-life-and-deaths-of-robert-durst-new-york-city-review-hbo-time-square

Yeah, I’m in Time Square…ruining my chances of freedom.

The dismembered body of Morris Black is found floating near Galveston, Texas.  Arrested for the crime is Robert Durst of one of the wealthiest families in New York City.  Following the highly publicized trial, interest in Durst’s past, including the disappearance of his first wife Kathie Durst and the death of his friend Susan Berman, is sparked and Durst found himself in the spotlight.  When director Andrew Jarecki is contacted by Robert Durst for an interview after making a movie based on the disappearance of Durst’s wife.  Jarecki sets out to tell Durst’s story…with shocking results.

Directed by Andrew Jarecki, The Jinx:  The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst was a documentary series playing on HBO.  The series aired in six episodes (entitled “A Body in the Bay”, “Poor Little Rich Boy”, “The Gangster’s Daughter”, “The State of Texas vs. Robert Durst”, “Family Values”, and “What the Hell Did I Do?”) from February 8, 2015 to March 15, 2015.  The miniseries won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming (“A Body in the Bay”) and was nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (“Poor Little Rich Boy”), Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (“Poor Little Rich Boy”), Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming (“Poor Little Rich Boy”), and Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming (“Poor Little Rich Boy”).  The series gained national attention when Robert Durst was arrested the day before the final show aired due to evidence uncovered during the course of the series.

jinx-the-life-and-deaths-of-robert-durst-trial-texas-murder-galveston-review-hbo

If you ever murder & dismember a person while hiding out as a woman, hire these guys…

I saw the crucial moment of The Jinx on the news like many people did.  Despite this, I wanted to see The Jinx.  I’m a sucker for crime drama and one of my favorite (but lazy) TV shows is DatelineThe Jinx is Dateline done right.

The Jinx in general feels a lot like Dateline combined with the popular NPR radio program Serial which looked at all aspects of a specific case.  The Jinx (like Serial) really dove into the story of Robert Durst, did the interviews, and dissected all aspects of each of the crimes of which he was accused of (and lacking that “filler” feel of Dateline).  In addition to that, they looked at Durst as a person to try to explore how he got to where he was…and with Durst’s participation, it was much easier.  A unique aspect of the show is that the viewers find themselves trying to determine Durst’s guilt or innocence based on his body language…it reminds me of playing L.A. Noir and looking for “tells” when a person is lying…and Durst seems to have a lot of them.

jinx-the-life-and-deaths-of-robert-durst-beverley-hills-letter-evidence

If only he had run that through a spell checker…

The results of the study are explosive and the documentary features a number of shocking moments where evidence is uncovered and people are caught in lies.  It feels like something you haven’t seen on TV before…including the mindblowing conclusion to the series which has Durst admitting his guilt to himself in a bathroom after forgetting to turn his mic off.  The ironic thing was that Durst was warned by his lawyers in an earlier episode to turn off his mic if he’s not on air when he almost gives up crucial information.

This revelation along with the discovery of evidence that Durst wrote a letter linked to the death of Susan Berman does raise some journalistic questions.  When is safety and the law more important than “the story”?  You could argue that Jarecki simply wanted more of the definitive confrontation with Durst to solidify a case against him, but you could easily argue that he also just wanted a stinger for his show…and it worked (making it an even harder call to know if he did the right thing or not).

jinx-the-life-and-deaths-of-robert-durst-microphone-left-on-ending-interview-review

Lesson learned: Turn off your mic and hold off going to the bathroom after being accused of murder.

The Jinx:  The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is a once in a lifetime type of documentary that just happened to turn into a real, raw exploration of a man and murders.  The show doesn’t shy away from the grizzly nature of the crimes (especially in the first episode) but sometimes overuses fleeting recreations.  The six episodes seem to fly by and it does leave you wondering what will happen next.  I could see another “follow-up” to The Jinx in maybe an hour or two hour special which explores what happened after the last episode of the series.  If you are a fan of crime and thrillers, the real life story of The Jinx is worth seeking out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response