Review: I Didn’t See You There

Score: B

Director: Reid Davenport

Running Time: 76 Minutes

Rated: NR

I Didn't See You There gives viewers a new perspective - literally and metaphorically - into the lives of the disabled. Director and star Reid Davenport, who uses a wheelchair, shoots the entire film from his POV as he navigates the streets of Oakland and the many hassles of a society focused almost entirely on the able-bodied.

There are several aspects that make this a truly refreshing documentary. One is Davenport's camera, which captures his not only his travels but also his crashes, arguments and unpleasant encounters. This is an unvarnished look at a life hindered not by his disability, but by inconsiderate and ignorant people. Davenport isn't afraid to come off like an asshole, raising his voice at people blocking his path. Sometimes his reactions are justified, sometimes they're not. But they're all honest outflows of his frustration at being invisible to much of society.

But a few things work against it. One is the strained metaphor of the circus and freak show. When a tent goes up across from Reid's apartment building, it spawns a lot of monologuing about P.T. Barnum's shameless promotion of disabled people as attractions, as well as other "curiosities" from the past. But it never quite connects to what Davenport shows us in his daily life. The other is the film's length. While 76 minutes is certainly not too long to spend in this world, this is yet another documentary that would have been a lot more effective as a short. Davenport can't help but repeat the same points about inaccessible transit, rude drivers and daily exhaustion.

Still, this is essential viewing for everyone. Davenport brings us into his world, forcing us to see what we too often ignore.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.