Netflix is at it again with their overly long, sensationalist true-crime documentaries.
This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist tells the story of the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Directed by Colin Barnicle, over four episodes we discover the history of the museum; the events on the night of the robbery; the fall out of such events and the various theories surrounding the robbery – delving deep into the politics of organised crime groups from the time.
The series started out okay. It immediately felt slightly different from the usual true crime documentary because it wasn’t about a serial killer so the chat about art and architecture felt classier and a little bit camp which wasn’t unpleasant. However, one of the thing that immediately got to me was the strange music choices which I can’t really account for and felt completely out of place.
Sadly, after the first episode which details the events of the robbery, the series quickly loses its way. The biggest problem was the introduction of endless theories that you’re not 100% sure link up to each other or not, and that are full of speculation and conjecture. Half the interviewees aren’t experts but just amateur sleuths and you really learn nothing new.
The theories mainly revolve around a variety of criminal figures – so many are introduced, each with the same level of bravado, that it’s impossible to keep track of which one’s which. Furthermore, a full backstory is given each which disrupts any momentum in the storytelling and is irrelevant to the actual art heist. There’s also an odd tangent about the IRA which really is completely not necessary. The thing with all these formulaic series is you can immediately tell which narrative lines are dead ends and it make me very frustrated that each series is so the same.
The fact that Buzzfeed Unsolved could tell this same story in only 30 minutes and be about 30 times more entertaining says a lot. Here’s hoping for better ideas in the future.