Lake of Fire

Directed By: Tony Kaye


Back to back black and white films, this one miles away from Bunny Chow reviewed earlier. Quite simply, this is the most impressive, most honest and most brutal account of the abortion issue I have ever seen. With breathtaking scope and access (shot over a 14 year period) Kaye has crafted a film that could easily be the subject of a graduate course in medical ethics.

This is a remarkably nuanced film, filled with competing views, with interviewees given ample time to articulate their positions, warts and all. It is not that the film lacks bias or is clinically even handed, instead the film forces adherents of both sides of the debate to recognize the inherent complexity of the issue. While adamant (and at times murderous) anti-Abortion activists will no doubt frame the film as proof positive of the brutality of the procedure, similarly should pro-Choice viewers find an engaging look at the complexity of the issue. Even the most pro-Choice viewer tends to not dismiss the difficulty of the decision regarding abortion, and even the most callous recognizes that it at its the battle of competing ethical standards. That said, the film brilliantly casts the subject in shades of grey, forcing any thinking viewer to reevaluate their positions.

This film may not change minds for the most intractable, nor is it trying to. Instead, it will hopefully give a better view of the tragic situation in the US involving access to doctors, the murdering of medical staff, the nature of the procedure (shown here in full detail, in a matter-of-fact way that’s never gratuitous), and the fact that honest people can honestly disagree about this sensitive subject with respect for the opposite position. The film suggests that it is only when the views become black and white that the true tragedy of human suffering occurs. Compelling, challenging, extraordinary, Lake of Fire is perhaps the film of the festival.

Grade: A+


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