How does one go from being in street gangs to becoming a cop? That seems like it would be a truly fascinating story! That seems like it would be the perfect story to turn into a film. But guess what? That is what director Ilinca Calugareanu thought when they heard the story of Corey Pegues. This new documentary creates an intriguing narrative about redemption and the true value that our society truly accepts. This is A Cops and Robbers Story.
How does Calugareanu deliver this compelling story of Officer Pegues? There are few different approaches that the film takes with presenting the narrative. The most effective of which is the raw and intimate video that is presented of Pegues interacting in his actual life. You see the real man which out the potential staged atmosphere of an interview. This is unadulterated and impactful in a genuine way. There are of course plenty of interviews as well. That feels standard affair for a documentary, but the morally grey approach makes it more interesting. The film does not shy away from painting a picture from both sides of this story including Pegues’ family to those on the force opposed to his inclusion. Then you have the acted-out dramatizations. In general, these types of scenes in documentaries come off cheesy and awkwardly staged. They do in this film as well.
But what is the real story that is portrayed about Pegues in this film? The story starts off early on with his involvement on the streets. This part of the film is dangerous and intense (even if some of the dramatizations undercut that weight at times). Then it transitions into his life as a police officer. But when does the film get the most interesting? After Pegues has retired, he speaks about his criminal past on a radio show. The issue? He kept it a secret the whole time on the force. The discourse that ensues is biting and significantly relevant. The film can draw out racial tensions and people’s true colors when it comes to forgiveness and redemption. The way the film challenges the hypocrisy of our society is bold and the most interesting aspect of the film.
Is A Cops and Robbers Story one worth experiencing? Made on a smaller budget and featuring some awkward dramatizations might make this one overlooked by some. But this is an inspiring story that also takes a turn to challenge its audience on what is real redemption. Do yourself a favor and check out this new documentary when you can.