Throwback Thursday Review: A Reason to Believe

 
  • Actors: Jay Underwood, Allison Smith, Danny Quinn, Georgia Emelin, Kim Walker
  • Director: Douglas Tirola
  • Writer: Douglas Tirola
  • Producer: Douglas Tirola, Christopher Trela, Ged Dickersin
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: April 5, 2005
  • Run Time: 109 minutes


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                    Although things have improved greatly, when this film was made during the early nineties, rape often went unreported. Making a statement against letting sleeping dogs lie, A Reason to Believe takes a strong stance against the abuse of women. It almost makes a strong stance for women’s rights as well, falling short only because of hypocrisy.

     

            Charlotte is dating a guy in a fraternity and has gotten to know all of his friends well, so when he leaves town for a funeral, she naturally assumes that she will still be safe at a party with them. When one of her boyfriend’s fraternity brothers rapes her at the party, she feels ashamed and tells no one. When her boyfriend returns and finds out, he turns his back on her. Finally she decides to go forward and bring charges against the guy, which also attacks the fraternity as well. Soon all of her friends have turned on her and the only people on her side are the women’s rights group on campus, who are merely using her to take down the fraternity.

     

            A Reason to Believe is a straightforward drama with little else to offer, making it difficult not to expect the film to feel like a TV special. Somehow it holds, however, never seeming too clich√© or trite. One of the elements of the film which bothered me the most also helped to make it more dimensional and real. The women’s rights group wanted desperately to let everyone know that they had the right to do whatever they wanted, but at the same time they would not allow Charlotte the simple right of making the choice to come forward on her own. They pressured her into it, eventually leaking the story into the school newspaper just to force her into the spotlight. They had no concern for Charlotte’s individual rights even though that is what they claim to be defending the entire film.

     

            There are many other interesting questions in the film, all concerning truth, loyalty, and choices. Much of the struggle seems to come in Charlotte’s decision, but there are other people who know she is telling the truth and choose not to come forward. Others simply lie in the rapist’s defense. Charlotte quickly learns who her true friends are, and how few of them there really are. The other good thing about this film is its willingness to allow things to end unfinished. It understands that rape is not something that simply disappears regardless of how the person was punished.

     

            With a surprisingly large amount of special features for a film this old and small, A Reason to Believe is a rarity among new-to-DVD releases. There are ten mini-featurettes, documenting the making of the film and examining the issue of rape further.

     

           

    Entertainment Value: 6.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10

    Historical Significance: 5/10

    Disc Features: 7/10

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