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Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Movie Review: Reviving Ophelia

I heard about this movie through BreakTheCycle.org whom I follow on Twitter. This organization aims to educate teens on dating violence and empower them to make their own decisions. Reviving Ophelia aired on Lifetime and will probably play more. Check your local channel listing to see when it airs again.

Reviving Ophelia is a story about a normal, well-to-do, calm and collected teenage girl, Elizabeth, who becomes involved with a guy named Mark. Mark is a gentleman, is respectful towards adults and showers Liz with affection and attention – just what teenage girls are looking for! Unfortunately, Mark isn’t what he seems to be. Underneath his cool fa├žade and cute exterior is an angry young man who has become quite obsessed with Liz. The signs are absolutely blaring. Her cousin, who is deemed the wild one in the family, tries to alert her family to what is going on, but no one wants to believe her. She tries to step in and assist her cousin, but she is quickly pushed aside and told there is no problem. Once Liz’s parents find out, they do everything to control the situation and protect their daughter. However, telling Liz No only make her want him more…

If you do plan to watch the movie, or read the book, don’t read any more. It will give away a lot of the story. I wrote down all of the signs I recognized:

  • He gets miffed because she made plans without consulting him
  • You find out his mother left him and his father, and that his father called him a loser because his mother left him.
  • You later find out his dad beat his mother, which is probably why she left. As ugly and unfortunate as it is, abuse is a learned behavior a lot of the time.
  • He becomes jealous of her friends and guys she sits by in class.
  • He tried to control her behavior.
  • He calls and texts her constantly, and gets very angry when she doesn’t respond promptly.
  • He tracks her on her phone’s GPS! Stalking is a serious red flag.
  • There is a small blip about an ex-girlfriend, who we don’t learn much about. However, sounds like he has been down this path before.
  • He makes her feel guilty for everything.
  • There is the obvious physical violence. The first incident, Mark lies and says he had to slam on his break and she hit the dash. She confirms the story. The cycle repeats itself, even if he says it will never happen again.
  • When she really tries to end the relationship, he pulls the suicide card. This is a very common response to once again use the blame and guilt that the victim feels to get them to stay.

The denial was thick as molasses. Liz blames herself for the fights. He has manipulated her mind and has fed his guilt into her. She makes a statement in the movie that if she were a better girlfriend, he wouldn’t have to hurt her. In one scene, she is eating dinner with her family and Mark texts her. Her dad tells her that it is family time and she can reply after dinner is over. Liz pretty much has a tiny panic attack. She becomes very anxious because her body is releasing adrenaline in response to what will happen if she doesn’t get back to him ASAP, even if her mind doesn’t make the connection.

One scene I found very powerful involved the social worker. After Liz lied to her family about breaking up with Mark, she visited her therapist. When the therapist asked how life was now that Mark wasn’t in it, Liz didn’t have much to say – because she was still seeing him. The therapist likely caught on to this and I think she used a powerful technique. She handed Liz her laptop and asked her to type in “warning signs of abuse” and asked Liz to read them to her. The clarity that washed over Liz was so heartbreaking, but it is what she needed to realize the situation she was in. At that point, she took control back of her life.

I plan to read the book ASAP, and will also report on it.

http://www.amazon.com/Reviving-Ophelia-Adolescent-Ballantine-Readers/dp/0345392825

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