Shaking off any potential after-school special PSA vibes its slick presentation might give you, Audrie and Daisy provides an at-once devastating and infuriating account of two families forever changed by sexual assault.
Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk investigate the cases of Audrie Pott, a 12-year-old girl whose rape and subsequent social media shaming led to her 2012 suicide, and Daisy Coleman, a 14-year-old rape victim who struggled to bring the perpetrators to justice in the very same year.
The stories, depressingly, will probably sound familiar and not massively shocking in of themselves to most viewers, even though the details are undeniably horrifying. It’s the legal system’s response to these acts, however, that’s more unsettling than any graphic description; the Sherriff working Daisy’s case prides himself on a spic-and-span town all while downplaying the culpability of the young males involved.
That’s really the target here; a royally fucked criminal justice system more keen to be skeptical of someone claiming to have been raped than the accused, which given the extremely low incidence of “crying rape”, seems rather dispropoirtionate. Throw in some nods towards political corruption and you set the stage for an unjust end result sure to leave many viewers flipping tables. Is the Ameriocan justice system so irrevocably broken that there’s a near-total disconnect between finding justice in a criminal suit and getting a “well, they basically did it” victory in a civil suit?
It’s an undeniably grim subject but the pic does at least manage to celebrate the courageousness of the surviving member of the titular pair, who finds strength by bonding with other rape survivors. Perhaps inadvertnatly, the filmmakers not only indict the U.S. courts and authorities but also the microcosmic nature of school life that the social media boom has only exacerbated, where one’s school is one’s world, and youngsters are, in a world of Twitter and Facebook insta-shaming, unable to see its utter meaningless in the grander scheme of things.
The message won’t be new to most, and while there is undeniably a difficulty in reconciling the both-genuine stances of “believe rape accusers” and “innocent until proven guilty”, the statistics on rape reporting do at least convince that one needn’t wholly contradict the other.
Audrie & Daisy is available now on Netflix