Some people in our office get very excited every year for the Chicago International Film Festival, and this year, as a team we decided to see Twice a Woman (2 Fois Une Femme), a French Canadian movie about a battered woman directed by Francois Delisle. By the way, we work at Life Span, an agency that assists women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
Watching a movie about a battered woman on a Sunday evening isn’t necessarily the most ideal way to spend our free time, when assisting victims of domestic violence is what we do five days a week. We know there are a lot of misconceptions about domestic violence in the media, so we went into the movie theater a bit critical and cynical to see if the picture would be an accurate description of what victims experience. Without revealing the plot, we can say this story is about a victim who has a low level of confidence in the legal system and does not use traditional remedies to flee the violence. Even with this condition, to our surprise the movie was a fairly accurate portrayal of a victim’s story. A few examples, without spoiling the movie, include parents’ misunderstanding of how domestic violence affects the child, the misleading persona the abuser gives off to the world outside of their home, and the limitations of resources a victim experiences after fleeing an abusive partner.
Besides the domestic violence aspect of the film, the acting, cinematography, script and direction, were all impressive. We were able to explore Quebec without really being there, only making us regret we do not speak French. The actors did a great job creating such challenging roles with an exceptional performance on the part of the young actor who plays the son.
After the movie finished, we had the pleasure of meeting the director, who was available for Q&As. The audience inquired about the research that was put into the movie to which the director replied that it was very minimal. He spoke briefly to an abused woman who is now living in a shelter, a police officer and a medical staff person. Our perception is that the director has more knowledge of issues that stem from domestic violence than he admits to. While it is a fictional movie, we feel that it does a good job of depicting domestic violence. ■