The Chicago Way

Donald Washington, director of this locally produced documentary, makes a valiant effort to confront the gun-violence epidemic on the south and west sides, but his movie is such a hodgepodge that it never arrives at any sort of conclusion. Gripping scenes of public grief and an avalanche of grim statistics establish the magnitude of the crisis, driven home even more powerfully by a man-on-the-street interview whose man on the street must beckon the interviewer to safety when gunfire erupts nearby. The most provocative sequence, an attack on public welfare as the scourge of the traditional black family, is flimsily supported and later muddled by a segment excoriating Governor Rauner for his cuts to public services. At the very least this grants a much-deserved megaphone to Ronnie Man of the activist group New Era Chicago, who marches through South Austin with a real megaphone trying to unify besieged neighbors with a galvanizing message of black unity and civic engagement.