Whitey: The United States v. James J. Bulger
Paradise Lost trilogy filmmaker Joe Berlinger looks at one of the most notorious and wanted gangsters in US history: James “Whitey” Bulger, the notoriously iron fisted and widely feared head of Boston’s Irish mob who disappeared almost without a trace in 1994 until his capture in California in 2011.
Berlinger certainly captures the fear felt by local residents shaken down by Bulger and his cronies and just how cutthroat he was when it came to rising through the ranks of the mafia, but he also happens upon an even scarier part of the story: that Bulger was a valuable government asset (something he vehemently denies to not look like a snitch that needs to be taken out) and that the US government might not want him to stand the trial that his victims are hoping for.
Bulger (who was clearly the template for Jack Nicholson’s character in Martin Scorsese’s remake of Infernal Affairs, The Departed) is a fascinating subject and Berlinger is definitely talking to all of the right people. In one unforgettable moment his mission to look at one of the most high profile shotcallers to ever live becomes potentially deadly, but it’s even more shocking to see how Bulger’s own defense is doing more to assuage the fears of victim’s families than the government’s prosecuting attorneys. That’s the real shock in this film that will stick with you long after it’s over.
Sunday, April 27th, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 9:00pm
Monday, April 28th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 9:00pm
Sunday, May 4th, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 9:30pm