Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Acceptable Damage Review: An Emotional Tale of Harassment and Societal Indifference

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 77 minutes
Starring: Elijah Baker, Fiona Whitelaw, Jack Brett Anderson

Lucy (Fiona Whitelaw) and her Aspergic daughter Katy (Elinor Machen-Fortune) are under siege from a street gang. The gang leader Rabbit wants to make them feel as low as he has been made to feel; as he fights a war against himself and the world around him.  The gang constantly harasses them, and Katy does not know when or how the gang will strike next.  She also gets conflicting messages from one of the members, which makes interpreting what is going on an even more difficult task.

Acceptable Damage starts off very well.  The opening scene is absolutely beautiful with soft music, wonderful lighting, and very nice camera work to make you feel at ease.  It highlights Katy's artistic and playful nature, and really makes you feel like you are about to watch a beautiful story.  And the film goes back to this theme a couple of times, showing Katy's quirky nature, along with her talent and inner beauty.  But the movie also quickly shows that something is not right.  The gang and their harassment are introduced relatively early on, as are Katy's own social issues.  And the harassment forms a main part of this film, with the efforts of the gang as well as Lucy's efforts to get anyone to care about this being the main underlying conflict.  The cops and other officials dismiss this harassment, or acknowledge it but state that there is nothing they can do, leaving Lucy and Katy at the mercy of the gang.  And in the end, it shows how a string of poor decisions or indecision can quickly escalate.  

However, the biggest issue with Acceptable Damage is that the gang's constant harassment was not very well explained.  I knew that they were harassing Lucy and Katy at every opportunity, and presumably this was because of Katy's condition and mannerisms, but the film did not tell us why they were doing this or why the intensity was so extreme.  Much of it hinted at through dialogue and little touches here and there, but it didn't impress upon me why the harassment was so extreme.  The movie tries to place some context on this, especially with the gang's leader Rabbit, but I just never drew the direct correlation for their motivations.  And the harassment can get pretty painful to watch and escalate quickly, so without knowing why this was happening it felt a little over the top.  Additionally, the ending of the film, though consistent with what built it up to that point, just did not seem realistic or justified.  And the film also contains a depiction of how an Aspergic person might visualize their social anxiety, but only uses the instance once.  It seems like something this visually different should have been used during the film at various instances.  As it stands, it comes up once and then does not reappear.  

Acceptable Damage has a quirky, beautiful main character in this emotional movie about harassment and society's indifference to address it.

Rent it.

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