Trained as a lawyer, Wiseman has chosen as his ever-evolving cinematic subject the American social contract, and how the machinery of the state upholds or shreds it. His first film is a hellish descent into a Massachusetts institution for the criminally insane where, it would seem, the lunatics have taken over the asylum. The editing often purposefully blurs the distinction between patient (some irretrievably deranged, some desperately lucid) and doctor. Wiseman fixes his steady, steely gaze on abuse, neglect, medical ineptitude, and appalling conditions; one horrifyingly expressionist segment, rare in Wiseman's work, cross-cuts between the force feeding of a patient and the later preparation of the same man's corpse. The film is often extremely difficult to watch and was, for a long time, nearly impossible to see. The Massachusetts authorities suppressed Titicut for a quarter century, arguing that it violated the privacy of the inmates - a risible claim, as it's painfully clear that these men had no rights at all. JWin.
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