DIFF Review: Private Violence


Director:Cynthia Hill

Cast:Kit Gruelle

Running Time:81.00


In a way that is reminiscent of The Inivisible War, Private Violence is a documentary working to shed light on the often complex issues surrounding domestic violence. Private Violence follows the work of Kit Gruelle, an advocate well known for her work in the field. The film centers primarily on the story of Deanne, a woman who was abducted into a truck and severely beaten across several state lines for days. She has decided to seek justice for the atrocities she's survived (the photos are, at best, horrific). The whole process is actually a rather sad discourse on the state of our justice system. The story expands out every so often to touch on other women's lives and difference aspects of domestic violence.

During the film, Kit Gruelle works with other women in various stages of  the abuse process. Some are still in the situation and trying to leave. Others are out and trying to get on their feet. Another was actually killed by her estranged husband, and Kit tries to comfort the family and get a better idea of what happened.

As interesting as all of the stories of the women are, I found myself often wishing that Private Violence would show all of each woman's story instead of teasing little breadcrumbs through the film. Aside from Deanne's story, most of the women's stories weren't terribly long, maybe 10-20  minutes at the most. Trying to keep track of which woman and which details went together often became a bit cumbersome, especially since none of the stories were related at all.

The film is eye-opening, especially for those who may as personally involved with domestic violence. With the statistic quoted in the film as being 1 in every 4 women being abused by a domestic partner in her lifetime, it's definitely a widespread issue. The piecemeal storytelling issue aside, Private Violence is an interesting social documentary, but it is tough to watch at times.


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.

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