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Evolution of a Criminal is a true tale of crime and redemption

by Mark Burger

The documentary Evolution of a Criminal could almost be subtitled “Anatomy of a Crime” because first-time filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe explores a bank robbery that occurred near Houston over a decade ago and details its inspiration, inception, execution and inevitable consequences.

The unique aspect of this film is that Monroe was one of those bank robbers, and as well as narrating his own story, he interviews many of those directly involved in the incident, including family members, his former cohorts in crime and even those who happened to be in the bank that day. Among them were David Ned, a pastor whose recollection of the day’s events is so heartbreaking and so real that it ranks as the film’s high-point.

It might sound hokey to say that some good has come from Monroe’s experience, which included a stint in prison, but the real surprise “” and a welcome one “” is that a good filmmaker has come from the experience. The filmed re-enactment of the robbery is rendered in remarkably suspenseful terms, even though the outcome has already been discussed (among the very first interviewees is the woman who prosecuted Monroe’s case).

Although Monroe came from a family that struggled with financial difficulties, neither he nor his film makes any excuses for his misdeeds. This is his attempt to atone for his past mistakes and impart some cautionary wisdom “” and it succeeds on both levels. Evolution of a Criminal stresses personal accountability, a worthy and important message that it conveys in, but never in a preachy or pretentious fashion.

Evolution of a Criminal is scheduled to open Friday at Carousel Cinemas in Greensboro. !

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