Netflix Nourishment: 27th Edition
A SECRET LOVE
Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel share a bond that most will never know. As two lesbians, they have had to hide their love from practically everyone – including their closest family members – for almost 70 years. In Chris Bolan’s extraordinary, emotional documentary, these two ladies are in their twilight years and ready, at long last, to let their remarkable romance be known. Contrary to what A League of Their Own tells us – for which Donahue’s baseball playing days inspired – crying can’t be helped with this one.
Sprawling over a lifetime of memories, this bittersweet yet beautiful story relishes in the happiness and devotion of an inseparable couple, but not without a past of difficult choices and unimaginable sacrifices that should have never had to be made. Sadly, society had no intention of making it easy for them. Hearing the lengths they were forced to go to when it came to not getting caught is heartbreaking. Though, Donahue and Henschel have no regrets and would do it all again – for the sake of love.
This is one sad attempt at a whodunnit thriller, spinning its web of murder and deceit in a manner that can only be described as sloppy and senseless. There’s intrigue at first, but it’s short lived as the motives established and the choices made are baffling or just downright dumb. Doing the exact opposite of keeping the audience guessing, director Michael Scott gets us to altogether stop caring.
MURDER TO MERCY: THE CYNTOIA BROWN STORY
A true-crime documentary that plays out as a court room drama of Brown’s life sentence and the pursuit for a second chance. As we bare witness to a family whom have endured sexual assault for generations, the damage that’s done is very difficult to overcome. But throughout the 15 years spent in prison, Brown seems poised to break the cycle. It’s incredibly inspiring as well as absolutely aggravating to what the court system is capable of. Freedom shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Knowing how this journey ends, director Daniel H. Birman is left with the task of shaping it into a deeper, more meaningful exploration of a lost teen growing up in the changing legal system. It’s not a total success as there are gaps that unquestionably need to be filled in. We get the basic version when an expanded one is much-needed.
THE HALF OF IT
Writer and director Alice Wu’s tender teen rom-com gets off to a strong start. It’s refreshing, clever, and funny in a telling of a self-effacing, brainy young girl named Ellie Chu who has a way with words and uses her expressive penmanship to help an emoji dependent jock get the girl. That’s easier said than done when Ellie has her own hidden feelings for the same girl. But the absorbing vibe audiences get introduced to doesn’t stick around throughout as the plot becomes less and less affective – opening it up to what we have come to expect time and time again from this genre. Even so, with an electric performance from Leah Lewis, this YA love triangle manages to hold on to that keen feeling of having not to rely on love to get you through. Self-acceptance and friendship is a fine substitute.
Brandon Vick is a member of The Music City Film Critics’ Association, the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and the star of The Vick’s Flicks Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.