Ooooooooh … beautiful Monica Pena, 2005 Bachelorette for D Magazine, is transformed into a woman almost (but not enough!) destroyed. The humiliation of being the subject of abuse has stripped her of her happiness, her hopes and the fabric of her beauty – but not her outrage.
“You’ve stolen my joy. You’ve destroyed my dreams. You are the nightmare of my soul and I will suffer you no more.”
She must start again. So there she is on the metaphorical railroad tracks, putting her very few belongings, the very few remnants of her essential self, into her “suitcase.” She has been fractured, but she grabs up the meager parts of herself that she can salvage and manages to get on a train – her passage forward.
What interests me is that a man, Brian Massey, wrote and directed this piece. How could he know? How could he be so sensitive? Women who stay in abusive relationships think their love can cure the abuser. They think their compassion can help heal the rage behind the perpetration. But as their submission continues the disrespect and violence accelerate.
Massey has his character say, “I thought my love would still your anger, but you wouldn’t stop. I thought my surrender would heal the pain, but it didn’t.”
I’ve forwarded the link to this film to the YWCA Safe Choice Program for use with their drop-in domestic violence group. The first time an abused woman may get help is through opening the door to this anonymous circle of women who tell their stories, often exclaiming with sad puzzlement, “He just goes crazy.”
Harking back to Stieg Larsson’s exposé on the historical and cultural denigration of women, perhaps “Last Stop” can be viewed as a blueprint, produced by men for women, that advises them to never tolerate disrespect. It is only the victim, in their stories, who is capable of breaking the cycle of abuse. That is where the power lies.
Interestingly, there may be broader implications in “Last Stop” than the breaking of a cycle of domestic violence. First of all, because this African-American’s husband is white, it might be inferred that there is a metaphor here also for the abuse of socio-economic power perpetrated through racial dominance.
Furthermore, I wonder if it follows that abusive domination, whether through a relationship, racial or gender bias or even through international bullying, can only be stopped by the victim? Is it primarily up to the object of abuse, the child, the woman, the man, the class or the country, to somehow find the strength, courage, self-confidence and resources to leave the situation?
Maybe it takes a greater community of support to help the de-tangling. Maybe a heavy dose of social education in schools and a greater support of shelter programs in local communities.
Yes, on first glance this is about domestic violence, but perhaps it can also be universalized to be about the abuse of power wherever it occurs.
Director, Writer and sound design: Brian Massey
Director of Photography and Editor: Jon Link
Producer: Brian Abbott
Cast: Monica Pena, Candace Cockerham, Ryan Hanson, Jordan Carter and Cara Miles
Time: Less than 7 minutes
Release: Summer 2010
Finalist in the 2010 Doorpost Film Short Film Contest: www.thedoorpost.com/2010/Finalists
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Follow Bev Questad on Twitter at http://twitter.com/questad.