Cousin Bobby Review

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Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme makes contact with his childhood hero, his cousin Bobby, having not seen him for 30-years. Robert Castle is a radical Episcopalian minister in Harlem, New York, taking an active stand in the fight against drugs, racism and poverty.


Essentially a trumped-up home movie courtesy of the Oscar-scooping Jonathan Demme, Cousin Bobby is very much a mixture of the personal and the polemic, with the Bobby being Demme's long-lost cousin, a practising minister in Harlem.

There are two tales here, and by cross-referencing Bobby's reacquaintance with the Demme clan after a 40-year absence and his sterling, progressive work among Harlem's community, the film operates as something other than a portrait of the man, managing to convey in its 70-minute running time the racial suffering and intolerance of an entire culture.

What primarily makes this film so compelling, however, is Bobby himself, one of that rare breed who seem to have been spoon-fed charisma from birth, and whose presence alone is enough to encourage others to follow. And though much of what is charted here amounts to little more than anecdotal asides - the kind chronicled through reverent word-of-mouth or over late-night drinks - the film's power comes from Bobby's words of compassion and common sense. Indeed, in a world of Boyz N The Hood-type sledgehammers, Jonathan Demme has here made a documentary that quietly makes its points with a razor-sharp scalpel.

A standout original documentary, which thoroughly deserved the numerous awards that came its way