More than 20 percent of women in the U.S. military have reported a sexual assault according to Defense Department statistics featured in Kirby Dick's The Invisible War. The department estimates that 80 percent of assaults are never reported. The Oscar-nominated documentary is eye opening, disturbing and important to see.
The Invisible War is built upon interviews with dozens of women (and at least one man) who have been sexually assaulted while in uniform, and focuses on a select few who share what happened, how and the effects on their lives and careers in the years that have followed.
This is the greatest military in what is supposed to be the greatest country in the world we're talking about. That's messed up.
Having watched three of Kirby Dick's previous films, The Invisible War marks his continued evolution as a filmmaker. The film takes the storytelling ability he finally crystallized in This Film is Not Yet Rated and combines it with the powerful subject matter of Outrage; of the three 2012 Oscar-nominated documentaries I've seen so far, The Invisible War is by far the most profound and heartbreaking.
The stories expressed in the film expose a shocking theme: that the U.S. military infrastructure frequently punishes the victims more than the rapists. One victim explains how she was forced to go on a group hike with the man who had raped her; to ease her objections, her commander simply put her behind her rapist in marching order so she could always see where he was. He was never reprimanded for his crime, let alone subjected to jail time.
The Invisible War is a documentary where the subject matter speaks for itself. Dick doesn't try to do anything too slick or flashy, and the restraint works. The movie isn't the best documentary I've seen, but it is one of the better documentaries of 2012.
Twenty percent. Think about that number for a moment.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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