Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Awful Normal (2004)

Celesta Davis and her sister Karen were molested by their father's friend. The girls' parents gave the accuser two choices: get counseling or turn yourself in. He chose counseling and the families moved along, remaining friends, as if nothing had happened. Fast forward 25 years and Celesta (now a filmmaker) and Karen learn that their molester's son has been arrested for the same thing. At this point, they decide that by inaction, they are complicit if there are other victims. Celesta, Karen and their mother decide to confront him. This documentary tracks their personal journey from planning through the moment they face off with him.

While this movie is uncomfortable, you are privy to frank interactions. Celesta is the most open; Karen is stoic. Their mother is the wild card. She seems to realize that she should have done more for her daughters but yielded to her husband's desire to do nothing.

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

The confrontation scene is rousing. Celesta starts the conversation and quickly engages in chit-chat. Then, she hits with the reason she's there. He readily acknowledges that she's probably there to talk about "the sexual abuse." They launch into an extremely civil conversation. The fact that he doesn't deny it makes this different than what I'd expected. Celesta wants him to state what happened. Eventually, Karen and their mother join the conversation. Before he will discuss it, he asks them to turn off the camera, but the sound is left on so you hear it as if you were sitting with them.

Themes: molestation, family issues

Director: Celesta Davis

Country: US

Genre: documentary

Time: 75 minutes

Scale: 4...not for everyone, but a unique film experience

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