Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Test Pattern Review: A Serious Understated Look Into The Emotional Trauma Of Sexual Assault

Release date: August 4, 2019
Running time: 82 minutes
Starring: Brittany S. Hall, Will Brill, Gail Bean

Test Pattern tells the story of a relationship that is put to the test after Renesha (Hall) is sexually assaulted by someone she meets at a bar, and her boyfriend Evan (Brill) tries to deal with this knowledge while driving her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit.  

Test Pattern is a slow burn movie.  It takes a while to establish the characters and their relationship.  Renesha and Evan are very different characters, but work well as a couple.  They have similar goals and genuine chemistry, and despite some differences in personalities, start to establish a life together.  This is all done at the start of the film, and the movie does a great job imparting this relationship on you.  And this is important because during the resultant search for a rape kit, you can feel the relationship strain that this search puts on them.  Hall does a wonderful job as Renesha, with her confident demeanor before and the resulting emotional doubt that the assault causes her after.  Brill does a fantastic job as the overly concerned, angry, and confused boyfriend.  He makes his motivations difficult to read, which is exactly what this situation was calling for.  Another highlight of this film is the stellar cinematography.  The film doesn't have anything too complicated, but it has some beautiful shots and great camera work to help paint the emotional pictures.

However, although this film analyzes a complex, and frankly deeply uncomfortable situation, I do not know what this film is trying to say.  It feels like there are several messages hinted at during the course of the couple's search and reporting, but nothing stands out as a final takeaway.  This leads to a stressful, emotional journey and an unsatisfying ending.  I was left wondering what the point of the film was, despite there being several very good messages and emotionally wrenching situations throughout.  Perhaps this film was simply meant to put the emotional turmoil that sexual assault--and the roadblocks that some conservative areas put up to reporting and dealing with it--on the screen for all to see.  In that sense it does a fantastic job.  

Test Pattern tells an emotional, slow burning story of a perfect relationship that is tested when a terrible assault occurs, with strong characters and beautiful cinematography.   

Rent it.

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