Directed by Marta Cunningham
This gripping American documentary focus’ on a school shooting in 2008 where a student was shot for allegedly being an LGBT person. The film is essentially split up into three phases: the retelling of the incident, character studies of the two boys and societal critiques of the legal and schools systems. A large majority of the film is made up of interviews with relevant individuals.
A good documentary has the director talking to the right people, asking the right questions and editing intelligently and ethically to keep the film cohesive. This film does all three and in fact does them all well. With a premise like this one might expect the film to be very one sided about the whole affair, but in fact its incredibly fair about showing both sides of the story in depth. It really isn’t as simple as ‘he killed him for being transgender’. Furthermore the film’s director Marta Cunningham takes on multiple issues including radicalized attitudes towards homosexuality, insensitivity of the legal system, American gun culture and the effects of crumbling, dysfunctional family structure. A lesser director may have fumbled these topics but Cunningham balances them all perfectly in her directorial debut.
Technically the film is done very well. Its very well placed and edited; only ever retreading previous ground to expand on ideas. The music is also done relatively well, opting for soft, subtle accompaniments over sweeping manipulative scores.
Valentine Road is a truly tragic story that will leave most people conflicted by its conclusion. Its smart, very fair and one of the best films of Inside Out 2013
– Taegan J. Brown
Toronto Inside Out takes place from May 23 – June 2nd. Visit the official website for additional information.