Meet the man who spent his time volunteering for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of New York – and ended up in jail. Off The Rails explores the bizarre story of Darius McCollum, a self-proclaimed train buff with an unhealthy fascination for the New York transport system. At 15, Darius took control of a packed train after befriending transit workers who taught him how to drive it. Though he did the job perfectly, he was arrested and his antics attracted widespread media attention. Over the next three decades, Darius commandeered more than 500 trains and buses. Despite never harming anyone, he spent 23 years in a maximum security prison, although an early diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome may explain why he does it. We observe the strained relationship between McCollum and his mother. He persuades himself that moving to North Carolina to care for her will distance himself from the MTA to help him get over his obsession. First time director Adam Irving alternates between colourful anecdotes to McCollum’s ‘career’ and the way the courts have failed him. This is a strangely fascinating documentary, an offbeat story, a look at compulsive behaviour and the government’s overreaction to it.
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