Discrimination is universal and some of the most horrible examples of it are happening in our very own schools. Valentine Road is an emotional gut punch of a film, keeping manipulation at bay and letting the story of its sadly departed victim of high school violence and those affected by it speak for themselves.
On February 12, 2008, in Oxnard, California, eighth-grade student Brandon McInerney shot his classmate Larry King twice in the back of the head during first period. When Larry died two days later, questions were everywhere and no one had any genuine answers. It’s the story of two victims: the deceased and the murderer. The film connects the human wreckage of Larry‘s and Brandon’s troubled lives: both physically abused, both from broken homes, and both searching for a sense of belonging.
While addressing an important issue through a look at a tragedy, director Marta Cunningham allows the subjects of this tragic tale let it all unfold realistically without ever skewing audience perception. She doesn’t need to because everything that needs to be said about why the case is so tragic is there for everyone to see. There are no winners here, especially as the case beings to morph into something more potentially shocking and devastating. Cunningham allows the subjects to use their own words and own feelings to let this story come to light rather constructing a timeline of a crime. She asks subjects how they felt, and the results are heartfelt, sad and occasionally downright upsetting as the abuse and how neglect manifests itself in the most horrible way possible.
It gets to the heart of the humanity of everyone needs to find their own answers and how terrifying it can be to actually follow through on it. (Dave Voigt)
Tuesday, March 4th, 6:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox