Women's Lives, Women's Trauma | Video Reviews

An intimate view of the difficulties in mitigating the effects of severe trauma—highly recommended for adult audiences; valuable to those on the spectrum and their caretakers and all who work with and love them; a worthy view of the emotional impact of sexual abuse even years after the event

After Fire. 90 min. Brittany Huckabee, dist. by Grasshopper Film, www.grasshopperfilm.com. 2017. DVD $99.95; acad. libs. $375. PSYCH/MILITARY HISTORY

Of the women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, one in ten suffers from traumatic brain injury (TBI), one in five lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and one in four reports having been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. About half of military sexual trauma (MST) incidents go unreported in our male-dominated armed forces. This film tells the story of three women veterans associated with the organization Grace After Fire (GAF) in San Antonio who encourage one another to complete their transition to civilian life while coping with PTSD or MST. The San Antonio area is home to many female veterans, and through GAF, the three vets encourage each other to file claims with the Veterans Administration, pursue advanced degrees, or promote veteran-friendly legislation in Austin, TX, and Washington, DC. Close-up camera work captures their personalities through inter­actions, in therapy sessions, and as they discuss their hopes and dreams. VERDICT An intimate view of the difficulties in mitigating the effects of severe trauma; highly recommended for adult audiences.—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH redstarDina: A Real-Life Romantic Comedy. 103 min. Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles, Passion River, www.passionriver.com. 2018. DVD UPC 888608667708. $24.99; public performance $350. PSYCH Who defines what love is and who should marry? This production follows Dina, a 49-year-old widow, and her fiancé Scott, both on the autism spectrum, as they navigate this path together. From the engagement party and Scott’s first visit to the ocean to Dina watching the Kardashians, Scott moving in, and the wedding and Pocono honeymoon, Santini and Sickles offer viewers an unimpeded look at the daily lives and unfiltered conversations of these two endearing individuals. Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, it examines what it means to be in love. Arresting audio of a devastating event in Dina’s life brings into sharp focus just how vulnerable this population is. VERDICT A truly thought-provoking documentary—uplifting and brutally honest. Valuable to those on the spectrum and their caretakers and all who work with and love them.—Virginia K. ­Johnson, East Bridgewater P.L., MA

A Woman and Her Car. 29 min. Loic Darses, dist. by Grasshopper Film, www.grasshopperfilm.com. 2017. DVD $64.95; public performance $150. PSYCH

Brief, yet impactful, A Woman and Her Car chronicles the journey of Lucie, who was sexually abused by an older man from age eight through 12. She writes a letter to her tormentor, and with a camera, an automobile, and minimal luggage, she is determined to deliver it to him in person to “give him back his shame.” Embracing a warrior haircut, she hops in her car, traveling over 600 kilometers to a pier that played a role in her haunted past. The scene is beautiful, icy, and peaceful, and she vows to take her two sons to visit the spot later that year. The camera work becomes a metaphor for Lucie’s odyssey as viewers whiz past a blurry landscape of snowy trees, the drizzle of a winter rain, and the sparse lighting of a dark country road. When Lucie finally reaches the residence of her abuser, the screen is filled with only the dark fabric of her shirt and the low aching sound of her sobs. Ultimately, the confrontation is not satisfying, yet Lucie does find healing. ­VERDICT Powerfully moving, this film, completed by Lucie’s son, may be triggering for some individuals while cathartic for others. A worthy view of the emotional impact of sexual abuse even years after the event.—Julia M. Reffner, North Chesterfield, VA  

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