OP-ROB RATING: ALL-STAR
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of HBO’s mini series/documentary, “The Jinx”. The show tells the story of Robert Durst, heir to the Durst family Manhattan real estate fortune, and suspect in three different murder cases. In six episodes we are taken through the details of each murder/disappearance and some surrounding personal facts about Robert Durst himself. The key components of the series are the one-on-one interviews with Mr. Durst. In each episode Mr. Durst is able to give his own perspective on the facts of these cases, but of course it is the audience who is left to decide whether he is telling the truth, the whole truth or no truth at all. As Durst himself relays in episode four, “I did not tell the whole truth. Nobody tells the whole truth.”
The facts of the case are interesting enough to stand alone as a captivating documentary series. The case regarding the death and dismemberment of a Mr. Morris Black is stranger than fiction could tell. As the show details thoroughly in episode one, “The Body in the Bay”, Mr. Black’s body parts were found in a bay in Galveston, Texas. One of the detectives describes lifting the torso out of the water by reaching down its throat and gripping the collarbone. In a separate case regarding Mr. Durst’s first wife, Kathleen Durst, the show guides us through what seems like a truly ambiguous disappearance and then uses specific interviews and pieces of evidence to pick apart our stance against foul play. The culminating episode involves a second interview with Bob Durst regarding a new piece of evidence linked to the murder of Susan Berman, a close friend and advocate of Durst. Durst is filmed looking at two pieces of paper, both with eerily similar handwriting. One is a letter from Mr. Durst to Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home. The other is a note left by the murderer of Susan Berman simply stating “CADAVER” at her home address. In both letters the handwriting is arguably identical. What further cements the resemblance is the misspelling of Beverly as “Beverley” in both letters. It is at this point that Durst promptly accepts the similarities but denies writing the letter. The interview ends and Durst decides to use the restroom before going on his way. Not realizing that his microphone is hot, Durst is caught mumbling to himself, “What did I do? Killed them all, of course” and the show ends with a bang.
Last week all of the major news sources were reporting on the show so I knew about the surprise ending before even deciding to watch episode one, and so for me it wasn’t all that surprising. However I don’t think that my prior knowledge damaged my enjoyment of the series in the least. The biggest and most disturbing surprise of “The Jinx” was Robert Durst’s likeability. Even after watching the show and knowing that there is a 99.99% chance that he murdered three people, I can honestly say that I kind of like the guy. In episode four during his trial in Galveston for the murder of Morris Black, whom he also dismembered, Durst is able to make the jury laugh hysterically. Just think about that…
I went into “The Jinx” knowing some basic facts about the series and the life of Robert Durst, after watching the short series I feel that I know everything possible regarding the murders of which he is suspected, and more importantly something important about human nature. Which is that no matter how terrible the deed, there is always a human being behind it, and that human being might just be a quirky, witty, old eccentric millionaire who seems like a quiet guy trying to mind his own business. It just so happens that his business might be murder.