Tuesday Thoughts – Life & Crimes of Doris Payne

Life and crimes of Doris Payne

The required US legal disclaimer: All images are the property of their owners I reproduce them here under the Fair Use Doctrine of the copyright law for commentary and critique

I’ve admitted it here before I’m a crime documentary junkie. I also adore Hollywood heist movies. When I found this documentary on Netflix little did I know I found something that mixed the best of both.

Doris’s story is one from rags to riches to well being on trial when in her 80s for doing what she’d done all her life.  The stories are thrilling and yes in some you can’t help but root for Doris.  Sure steal that watch from the bigoted jeweler who dumped you for the white customer.  Yes get the best of the snooty Parisians, and so on.  Just like in a heist movie the thieves are beautiful, smart, and charming – like Brad Pitt, George Clooney – what’s not to like?  Her tales of escaping Monte Carlo jail and others are thrilling and glamorously simple.    This is the stuff of Hollywood.

Then the real details.  No she didn’t retire happy and rich.  The money’s gone. All of it.  Gone.  She’s living in a shelter, but manages to have Chanel cosmetics.  As we follow her through one of her recent tribulations with the now all present surveillance cameras.  As charming as she is, we see that she lies directly to us, her friend, her lawyer, and her children.  Makes me wonder just what was left out of the thrilling heist and escape tales she told.

In the end, Doris has to pay for her crimes.  Yes even at her age.  As entertaining as it is in fiction, it isn’t so in real life.  It’s not like she built a great life for herself of her children with it.  She didn’t rob the rich and make something of it.  No, it’s all gone.  Now she’s left selling her past to the movies and facing the rest of her life in jail.

I like how the documentary let us live the story.  Let us hear it out live the glamour of it.  Then centered on the real world problems of Doris today.  It did well in drawing the line between the dream glamour of it and the harsh reality.

It’s certainly a tale worth watching but in the end I don’t think it’s worth living.  Some things are just better as fiction.

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