By Jerome Reuter
Are you someone who sees the glass have empty, or half full? It all depends on your perspective on the scenario. This is the same question posed in the 2011 film, Scalene. It’s a film about perspectives, and how much they can differ on one single scenario. After all, there are three sides to every story; yours, mine, and the truth. Reaction to this film has been mixed, and I can certainly understand why. Some of the subject matter, as well as the way the narrative is set up, aren’t going to appeal to everyone. I feel this film is exceptionally well done, and I have few complaints, if any.
The story is centered on the alleged rape of a young caregiver, by her mentally handicapped patient. Not always a subject that critics and audiences find suitable subject matter. It also follows the boy’s mother, who deals with the struggles of raising an offspring with such a severe handicap. Tackling matters such as sexual assault, mental disabilities, and child abuse are touchy subjects for many people. I can understand why some people shied away from this one, or dismissed it entirely. However, these are all matters you’ll see on the evening news, they’re part of everyday life. You know what they say; truth is stranger than fiction.
Subject matter notwithstanding, it’s the presentation the gives this film its edge. Unlike a traditional narrative, this doesn’t move from point a to point b. The plot is told in an out of order sequence, much like Memento or Irreversible. With each segment being seen from they eyes of the three parties involved. The mother, who tries to maintain a normal life while raising her son. The young caregiver, who suspects abuse and struggles with doing whatever it takes, just to do what she feels is right. Finally, there’s the perspective of the boy struggling with the handicap. Therein lies the challenge, how do you tell a story from the point of view of a young adult who can’t talk? Well, the way this is handled is absolutely brilliant; you let the camera speak for him. His point of view is told through camera movements, which would even make Andre Tarkovsky proud. They flow as if they were in a dream, swaying back and fourth from the realms of reality and delusion.
Aside from the storytelling that one might find in an experimental film, something else resides beneath the surface. This film serves as a commentary on our own morality. If you saw injustice, how far would you be willing to go to do something about it? Would you do something, or refuse any involvement? It touches on the argument of turning a blind eye, or getting involved. It really shows us how different people react in situations such as these.
This is a brilliant film; it deserves all the praise it’s gotten. Sit down with this one if you get the chance, it might change your perspective.