I watch this movie every time I feel weak and powerless as a woman. I agree those occasions are rare as I live in a fairly safe and nice neighbourhood, but sometimes, I just don’t feel safe with some people or situation. No, it is not, like someone ever hurt me, but they do a pretty good job of making me aware of my weaknesses. Here, they are not trying to be a friend and warn be of my drawbacks, but are trying to make themselves feel a little bit stronger. I know, no one can ever be safe from the unpredictability of life, and the probability of one getting hurt in any given time is always high. However, sometimes, I get closer to the ‘high probability’ of me getting hurt. Like, one day with some known person, at the end of an apparent casual conversation, I am just left with a sense of being defenceless. Another word that joins this feeling is ‘what if’ (and not in a good sense). Usually, no woman/person/animal, ever has violent thoughts, unless, they feel threatened- it’s natural. Don’t you agree?
After the ‘casual’ conversation, I held myself together, watched some self-defence YouTube videos and called some self-defence classes. Still feeling unsatisfied, and realizing that there will be always someone who will have the strength to overpower me or the situation might not work in my favour, I sit down to watch this movie. If nothing else, at least for a deluded moment, I restore the sense of safety, until, I find a permanent solution. Why do I watch only this movie? It is because its main character doesn’t hand over the responsibility of her safety in the hands of some institution/person. She learns the practical skills that end up making her feel safe and happy psychologically as well as physically, which is downright inspirational.
The best thing I like about this movie is its narration. There were no loopholes in the story. There was no way it seemed like this story was impossible. Women do fall for guys who act like a hero and save them from troubles. Yes, they, like any socially sensitive person, sometimes suffer from the deluded concept of ‘love’ that includes ’emotional safety’. Yes, whenever anyone is in that deluded, love-struck state of mind, they don’t see a person for what they really are, they put them on a pedestal and believe. Yes, you verbally fight with the person you are close to, and you don’t expect them to slap you or hit you. Yes, marriage, sometimes when you are not lucky, is a free pass for the husband to do whatever they want to do with ‘their’ wives, and the law is not always effective to save or protect them from any harm. Yes, even the family-in-law don’t do much to mend the situation. And yes, only very few women are lucky to escape such situations alive. All of these pointers were considered, which also gave this film a very smooth flow.
It surprises me to know that when this movie was released in 2002, it was not very well received. However, it did well at the box-office. I read about critics who were picking up details like this movie shows little faith in the authority or the cinematography was not sinking well with the story. However, I completely disagree with those critics as this movie is just trying to mimic reality as closely as possible. It is trying to project the psychological and physical trauma of a woman who is devalued and disrespected by her husband. This film was in no way saying that one shouldn’t trust the law. It portrayed that a police officer or a person in authority can work within the confines of what their profession entails. However, a criminal mind is working out of such constraints. If an innocent person finds oneself in such situations, the authorities have certain protocols to follow in order to protect that person. If not followed, that person might get fired. This movie also truly portrays that the system is, usually, biased towards people with money. I don’t know the law, but I think for some charges like murder and domestic violence, the accused should not be given the liberty of being out on bail. I don’t know if it is even possible or a good idea. I am sure there must be a good reason for this system not to exist already. But, yes, sometimes things can indeed and do go out of the system/authorities’ hands.
The next noteworthy thing about this movie is the depiction of the scenes of violence. It is not too explicit or cruel that it can’t be watched. The director clearly didn’t want the audience to freak out and stop watching the movie. In one scene, he showed the camera on Slim’s friends who were sitting outside her house and hear screams in the background. The next thing we see is those friends running towards her house to save her from her abusive husband. There are hardly any curse words either.
The best part about this movie is the end fight/self-defence sequence between Slim and her husband. It is perfectly shot, there are no shaky camera tricks, and neither was the scenes unclear. It was a series of perfect shots with clear yet basic self-defence moves, which actually go with synchronization of time within the movie. They didn’t show that within a month, Slim became the best fighter ever. They showed her to be good enough to take down an overconfident, unprepared, power-hungry man/her husband. This scene inspired me, restored the faith in me, and motivated me to go and learn some form of self-defence, like every person, irrespective of male or female.
A person (male or female) doesn’t need to be married to encounter people who are deceptive, manipulative, power-hungry, or even, controlling. If not all of the characteristics, you much have encountered, at least, a person who projects one of these characteristics. In short, we can’t avoid people, and some of the times, dangerous people slip through our filters. Most damaging of it all is when we have developed some sort of friendship with them if not married, and then they decide to show their true nature. That person hurts and probably that is the intent. Who can know a criminal mind, apart from criminals? All we can do is be aware of our blindsides and make ourselves stronger. This movie tells the story of a woman who learns that in a hard way.
As mentioned before, the director, Michael Apted, did a perfect job of taking care of every detail in the movie. Probably the only thing, I and the other critics agree on is the performance of Jennifer Lopez and Billy Campbell. The performance by Jennifer Lopez was extremely realistic and commendable. Billy Campbell who acted as Slim’s husband, also gave a brilliant performance.
Watch the trailer of the movie:
Further, I am sharing a song from this movie that I love a lot by Aimee Mann. Check it out.
I do wish that we were in a world where things were fairer, but it’s not. So, to all the people who cross by this article/blog, I urge you to learn some form of self-defence, today!
Just do one thing for me, be safe!