The House I Live In (4 stars)

The House I Live In

Angry and illuminating documentary about America's war on drugs

Director Eugene Jarecki, the brother of fellow filmmaker Andrew, attacks America’s failed war on drugs in this angry and illuminating documentary that will leave viewers clued-in but fuming.

Jarecki’s contention is the multi-billion dollar campaign against drugs funded by successive US administrations is not just ineffective, but is actually a cynical ploy to create work for the police, the courts, the prison system and the construction companies that build the penitentiaries. Instead of spending tax-payers’ money on drug education and rehab (far-sighted programmes which do not go down at all well with either the press or much of their readership, ie the voting public), Jarecki contends that the US government plows cash into law enforcement, which looks more attractive to the press and the public. The result is the targeting of black and poor white American drug users, who are the easiest marks, and who have now swelled America’s prison population to the largest in the world. Jarecki goes further still by suggesting that the origins of this bogus war on drugs date back to 19th century racial intolerance and that the only way to tackle the problem is to radically reassess America’s past with a view to radically changing its present.

Jarecki’s arguments, presented as a very personal response to the war on drugs, are unashamedly those of a left-wing libertarian. They are also enormously compelling and extremely convincing. And his thesis is backed up by various impressive interviewees, most notably David Simon, the former campaigning journalist who dramatised his own war on drugs through his hugely successful TV show The Wire. Tellingly, Simon, who is as eloquent as he is informed, is absolutely seething about the shameful state of his nation. Sadly, it doesn’t look like there’s much chance of things changing for the better, despite the outcome of the recent presidential election.

Selected release from Fri 23 Nov.

The House I Live in Trailer - In UK Cinemas 23rd November

The House I Live In

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 1h 48min
  • Directed by: Eugene Jarecki

This documentary on America's war on drugs comes from Eugene Jarecki, brother of fellow documentarian Andrew.

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