‘The Invisible War’ Movie Review – The Invisible Solution
Not knowing anything about a film can be beneficial. I recently wrote a review where the unknown factor really enhanced my viewing. However, there is an inevitable flipside. The military documentary The Invisible War isn’t worse because I knew nothing about it, but a little bit of warning should be noted. The warning is purely due to content, though, since the film documents some pretty gruesome stuff. In turn, the film paints an emotional picture, even though it’s arguably too depressing.
Kirby Dick (Twist of Faith, This Film is Not Yet Rated) takes his documentarian talents to sexual harassment and exploitation in the military. Following multiple main characters, he tells a case-by-case story about each individual and how they were hurt. In an institution as gigantic and powerful as the U.S. military, things of this nature should not be occurring. Without any prior knowledge, I’d presume it’d be tough to find somebody that disagrees with the previous statement.
Through interviews, montages, and dramatized scenes, each real life character and their battles play out on screen. Some are looking for money while others are looking for change. No matter what, though, they are all looking for justice.
When judging documentaries, I tend to focus on the rhetoric. In this case, The Invisible War does a great job of establishing credibility, backing it up with facts, and hammering home the emotions. According to Aristotelian rhetoric, the documentary is right on. Sure, the emotions (pathos) ultimately drive the film, but it’s balanced more than a lot of other documentaries you’ll see.
From another point-of-view, it’s hard for me to back this film completely. And, it’s probably not the message, style, or presentation really. The content is so bleak, making The Invisible War really wear on you. There’s truly only so much rape, exploitation, cover-up, and injustice you can take. The faceless enemy is undoubtedly wrong, but is anything changing? After the film is over, we’ll be thinking and talking about how wrong the system is. However, is anything going to change? I fear not.
To Kirby Dick’s credit, this is most likely part of the intent. First, you introduce the problem and educate the people. So far, so good. Then, you explain the complexities – in this case: the imbalance of power and lack of change. Two for two. Lastly, you offer up solutions and inspire change. I’ll give the movie the benefit of the doubt on the change part, but not so much on the solutions. How can I help, how can I make this problem disappear? I still don’t know.
Besides signing a petition – something everyone should do – the only answer I could come up with was “I don’t know.” This depressing answer is very unsettling.
Still, The Invisible War is thought-provoking and ambitious. It’s a film whose content needs to be shared. For any person (particularly women) thinking about joining the U.S. military, make sure you check this movie out. There’s a reason it took home awards at Sundance and the Seattle International Film Festival (where I was lucky enough to catch it).
With all the praise I’ve got, I will throw in my kernel of warning – Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War struggles the most with finding a solution we can get behind. For some, this depressing realization won’t sit well. Ultimately, the good stuff is far superior to the not-so-good.
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