What She Said (2021)

This is how you do a tagline: “Everybody has an opinion. Nobody has WiFi.”

Sam (Jenny Lester, who wrote the script for this dark comedy) has decided to drop the charges against the man who assaulted her. Now, on Thanksgiving, perhaps one of the most stressful days of the year, her family and friends have joined together to stage an intervention.

Our protagonist, who has placed her life on hold for 18 months in and out of trials, wants to finish her dissertation. Yet when she receives news that the trial is postponed again, she hides out in her family’s remote cabin in the Virginia woods, ghosting everyone. But can the same people she wants to avoid convince her to come back to the city to complete the trial?

Lester explained her thought process behind the script — and the making of the film — by saying, “It is frustrating that in most portrayals of survivorship, we learn what someone has been through instead of who they are. As more and more women started sharing their stories (often anonymously) online over the past few years, the question that kept itching in my mind was, “Who was this woman before this event that is now synonymous with her identity? Who is she now as she picks herself back up and returns to her life?” As we approached our first feature, we knew we didn’t need to add another SVU version of survivorship to the zeitgeist, and instead wanted to focus on what is hopefully a very human story about a deeply nuanced and often flawed woman and her messy, misstepping, well-meaning chosen family that raillies around her. Putting together a predominantly female, enby, and queer crew and creative team to help tell it was absolutely paramount.”

Where most films that deal with this subject are either courtroom dramas or descend into revenge pictures. This shows the very human side of dealing with what comes after the attack, with Sam struggling to build new connections and continue the ones that she had before. Beyond the horrific emotions and pain that Sam has had to deal with over the last year and change, the fact that others want to tell her what to do may be just as damaging to her.

There are no easy answers, obviously, but this film raises plenty of questions to ponder over and consider. It’s not what I expected to watch for entertainment, yet it’s the kind of movie that will stick in my head and make me think back to it from time to time, which is one of the hallmarks of a film that just plain works.

Director Amy Northrup has an interesting resume, as she’s acted in several films and also works as an intimacy coordinator and facilitates classes on consent practices for filmmakers. This is her first full-length film. Of this effort, she said, “The ways we consume media affects how we see the world around us, and if the stories of sexual assault we see are homogenous, limited, and singular, it makes it infinitely hard to see the layers of impact, to believe the people in our actual lives who come forwared and say this happened to me. When all we see is perfect victimhood we turn around and demand it. This film, for us, was one version of a story that won’t meet that demand.”

You can learn more at the official website of this movie. It’s now available on VOD.

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