The Tale Review

20 May

Decidedly not formalistic, but much too often to a fault. I have great respect for what Fox is going for here, especially as it relates to the messiness of trauma and the profound impact it has on victims’ memories. The contradictions inherent in dramatizing a story about a kind of existing dramatization are endlessly fascinating, but the documentarian in Fox too often results in a stiltedness that outweighs the authenticity accompanying the approach.

The first hour in particular is maddening, the flashback structure leading to what are oftentimes baffling stylistic choices and uncomfortably ineffective transitions. Though the storyline set in the past is the main focus of the film, the present day journey and relationships get shortchanged. Dern does her best to hold it all together, but it isn’t until the final few scenes where she gets material with which to shine. It is also the powerful ending of the film where the emotional weight behind the filmmaking itself really starts to click into place, joining the pre-existing emotional weight behind the real life story. Unfortunately, the filmmaking lets the story down for most of the runtime.

I wanted to love this and thought I would, so I’m disappointed. But I think it goes without saying that everyone everywhere should see it.

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