Off the Rails | Chicago Reader

Off the Rails

In his directorial debut, documentarian Adam Irving examines the life of Darius McCollum, a 50-year-old African-American man whose Asperger’s syndrome partly manifests itself in his encyclopedic knowledge of and passion for New York City's mass transit system. McCollum regularly steals buses and subway trains, safely driving them to their destinations; these compulsions and others, such as impersonating token booth clerks and track repairmen, have landed him in jail 32 times, beginning when he was 15. Though Irving risks exploiting or condescending to his vulnerable subject, he avoids these pitfalls by presenting the story in its full scope—including how the U.S. prison system treats black and neurodivergent people (badly). His delineation, which includes animation and subtle reenactments, brims with empathy.

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