Review: Look What You Made Me Do
- Coco Schrijber confronts us in a direct, brutal and radical way with the heteropatriarchal violence that many, many women face on a daily basis
Nominated for the IDFA Award in the Best Dutch Film category and landed in Geneva at the FIFDH where it was in competition for the Best Creation Documentary Award, Look What You Made Me Do (a decidedly evocative title!) sweeps over us like a hurricane. With her latest documentary, Dutch filmmaker Coco Schrijber pulls no punches in showing violence in all its gruesome horror. Whether it is the images captured by a CCTV camera or the direct testimony of the protagonists who recount the crime committed with apparent detachment, the director shows how violence is, like gender, a social construct. Can “women” feel homicidal instincts? Is violence, like any proof of strength and domination, reserved exclusively for “men?”
In the documentary, Coco Schrijber focuses on the testimonies of the Finnish Laura, the Dutch Rachel and the Italian Rosalba, three women who, victims of terrible abuse, carried out the unthinkable by killing their partners. The three protagonists of Look What You Made Me Do testify before the director's camera with courage and disarming sincerity, spokeswomen for all the victims of a heteropatriarchal system that wants to deprive them of the right to rebellion.
Without wanting to justify nor to judge their acts, Coco Schrijber confronts us with a chilling reality, that of violence against women, which claims more than 30,000 victims worldwide every year. Using the famous work by Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Beheading Holofernes, in which the painter cuts the throat of her rapist, the Dutch director raises uncomfortable questions to which she does not intend to give a one-sided answer: what is real violence? The one to which the protagonists are subjected, a perverse side effect of a hetero-pathological society that wants to turn them into victims, or the one used to escape from a psychological imprisonment that leaves indelible scars? Is there an alternative solution to murder?
The film opens with an emblematic quotation: “when I told my mother that a boy was beating me on the playground, she replied: it's because he likes you,” an incisive statement that shows how social and gender roles are embedded in the DNA of our society. So-called “women” are seen, from birth, as potential sacrificial victims. Coco Schrijber shuffles the cards by offering us alternative examples, testimonies of women who have used violence as a gateway to freedom.
Without glorifying their act, the director objectively shows the motivations that drove the protagonists to commit the irreparable. The candour with which they recount how and why they took action is both surprising and destabilising. Laura relives, knife in hand, the murder scene using her new partner as an actor, while Rosalba cooks the same meatballs filled with sleeping pills that killed her husband. The director listens without judging, showing how violence is not the exclusive preserve of men but inherent in every human being.
Violence, like gender, is socially constructed, instrumentalised with the aim of creating a society in which victims believe they deserve the abuse of their executioners. What would happen if the rules changed and the victims started to rebel using the same weapons with which they were silenced and traumatised? Look What You Made Me Do is a film that leaves no escape, forcing the audience to confront their own ambiguities.
Look What You Made Me Do is produced by Witfilm and sold internationally by CAT&Docs.
(Translated from Italian)
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