The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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After Tiller applies empathy, honesty, and graceful understatement to a discussion that all too often lacks them all.
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It's a grim story.
You may or may not be convinced, but you will be affected.
"After Tiller" does viewers the great service of providing light where there's usually only heat, giving a human face and heart to what previously might have been an abstract issue or quickly scanned news item.
What makes this well-edited film compelling are the stories of the patients and the agonizing moral quandaries that the doctors express in doing their work.
It's a calm, thoughtful film about an incendiary subject, and it has a clear point of view: to allow these doctors (and some of their patients, who we hear but don't see) to explain why they do what they do.
This wrenching documentary, profiling the four doctors who still provide third-trimester abortions in the U.S., is remarkable for being so level-headed.
After Tiller is undoubtedly at its most compelling when stripped down to doctor-patient level. The majority of the testimonies from those individuals wishing to be considered for the third-trimester process are truly heartbreaking.
There is nothing easy about After Tiller. Not the watching or the telling.
You may not leave the theater with a different view, but that's not the point. A good film is one that starts a conversation and provokes thought, and After Tiller is certainly one of those films.
I understand that "After Tiller" is intended to be a pro-choice film and have no problem with that. It would be a stronger one if it took the other side more seriously.
The film succeeds, however, because it manages to rise above the controversy surrounding legalized abortion in America and objectively presents what's at stake here for the doctors and women involved.
Engaging and thoughtful, After Tiller's examination of its main subjects forms a documentary that wisely treats its subject with more curiosity than dogma.
Despite the emotional nature of the subject matter, After Tiller provides us with a good bird's eye view of the life and motivations behind the four doctors in the U.S. who perform third trimester abortions. It is likely that each viewer will react differently depending on what they bring into the viewing experience but it is worthwhile regardless.
My first thought was that the filmmakers got dangerously close to only appealing to emotion for their thesis, but since the film directly addresses third trimester abortions, perhaps this is the only way to make this argument. The film strays from its central narrative too often, but it still provides a compelling voice to people who are generally only attacked when spoken of.
On one level, the documentary "After Tiller" does a good job of showing the day to day lives and work of the four remaining doctors performing late term abortions in America, as they contend with annoying and ignorant people constantly on their lawns and with the constant fear one of them may be armed.(Per the end note, one more doctor is being trained.) Contrary to what one would ordinarily suppose, they are not in New York, Massachusetts or California. Instead, this is in the heartland of Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico.
On a different level, "After Tiller" relies much more on sentiment than on facts which could have been used to better destroy some of the fallacies concerning abortion. Admittedly, we do get some information on what a late term abortion is and the conditions for performing one(which usually involves a fetus having a critical or fatal condition) with adoption being discussed as an alternative. But the doctors are not alone as they seem here. While the Democrats, Wendy Davis notwithstanding, are pretty useless, there are plenty of pro-choice activists out there willing to protest.
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