The content of the film affirms the clichés; the few males who aren't ineffectual or chronic liars (one uncle baldly denies abusing his niece, who is clearly petrified of him) are mostly married to Bobbi Bear staff. One of the resounding purposes of the group is to convince the area's women sufferers to speak out, loudly and persistently. It quite clearly won't be the men who tackle the region's unjust medical system (the public hospital is in shambles, and the private hospital asks for exorbitant sums of cash before admittance), or the encroaching industrial malfeasance that causes the death of one Auntie's young son. (The lengthy funeral sequence is overwhelmingly sad, and crucial to our understanding of these women's resolve in the face of tragedy.)
Longinotto's directorial hand is quiet but sure throughout. The vérité-style film offers minimal exposition (the editing causes mild confusion about which case we're observing at any given moment), but Longinotto doesn't need to employ much elaboration or cinematic flair to make this story effective. After ten minutes in the company of these Aunties, you'll feel like you know them, and you'll be in awe of them.
Christopher Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROUGH AUNTIES | directed by Kim Longinotto | released by Women Make Movies | 103 minutes | March 8 @ 7:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, in Portland | Free | space538.org
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