REVIEW: The Invisible War

14 12 2012

The Invisible WarI think the ability to evoke real anger in me is something limited to documentaries.  In a narrative film, when I start to feel such an emotion bubble up inside of me, I can quickly quell it by reminding myself the movie is just that.   It’s fictional, not real.

But in a documentary, when I get mad, I can’t remove myself from the sensation.  The banks ripped us off in “Inside Job.”  The polar ice caps are melting in “Chasing Ice.”  The adorable, innocent dolphins are getting poached in “The Cove.”  And in “The Invisible War,” America’s bravest women are actually being raped at a level so frightening it could honestly be called a epidemic in the military.

The problem of rape is widespread and pervasive throughout the military.  I won’t share the statistics here because seeing them in the context of the film will make you seethe with rage over them all the more.  But in spite of how grand a scale this problem is, director Kirby Dick makes it all the more powerful by bringing it down to the most personal scale possible.  Somehow, he manages to find several women brave enough to sit down, look into a camera, and give all the details of how they were sexually assaulted while in the service of their country.

I dare you not to feel devastated.  I dare you not to feel burning rage.  I dare you not to cry.

“The Invisible War” takes most of its driving narrative force from the story of one woman in particular, Kori Cioca.  When she was raped in the military, she was also beaten in a way that destroyed her jaw.  Several years after the incident, she is totally unable to eat solid foods and cannot go outside in the cold due to the searing pain it causes her.  And her country, specifically the Department of Veterans Affairs, is finding every way possible not to acknowledge her injury.

Kirby Dick’s film exposes a great national shame, one which ought to make us all feel guilty.  He does slightly fumble the ball at the goal line, though, leaving our call to action a little muddled.  Perhaps, at the moment, there is little hope for these women because our government is in denial of their plight.  But where do we go from here?  How can we help these women?

I’d love to know, because after seeing “The Invisible War,” I feel compelled to do everything in my power to make their struggles visible.  A-3halfstars


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