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Sundance 2023: “When it Melts”

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

In our line of work, we are equipped to use the right words when it comes to reviewing films. But the moment you begin watching films like “When it Melts”, you feel like you are lost in words. If there is a condition to it, I would certainly want to know that. However, I know one thing for a fact, what is being captured in this would not pass in Hollywood. However, certain difficult scenes are made for some to watch, to realize the significant harm they can bring. But will it help heal the pain? The answer, sadly, most of the time, is negative.

Eva is grown up. While her friends found a way to build a life of their own, the young woman still struggles. Maybe it could play out differently for her. But when she saw on social media that her childhood friend had died, she returns to her home village to attend the memorial service. In reality, she is still stuck with what happened when she was thirteen years old and now, when the memories are still vivid, sharp and alive, the pain that it causes her is so deep, the only way she thinks she can leave it behind for good – to face her tormentors.

When Eva was in her adolescence, she was friends with Tim and Lauren. The trio were like musketeers. They would invite girls from the neighborhood to play riddles. If the participant was wrong with the answer, they would have to remove their cloth. Tim, especially, was quite ruthless. He would not mind touching the girls inappropriately and would grade some in a point system. For those that were four out of ten, he treated them as useless and unworthy. The question is, why would Eva befriend boys like Tim and Lauren? Sadly, as their game progresses, sexual violence becomes inevitable. And when that is being captured onscreen, you must be prepared – it’s a traumatic experience and must make a choice – to watch it or close your eyes.

As we realize the depth of Eva’s trauma, we sympathize with her, as we understand her struggle, inner pain and why she cannot move on. Actresses Rosa Marchant (young Eva) and Charlotte De Bruyne (adult Eva) deliver an outstanding performance by capturing the vulnerability of victims of sexual violence and what it does to them going forward. Based on Lize Spit`s novel, screenplay by Veerle Baetens and directed by Veerle Baetens herself, “When it Melts” is a shocking film about how far the innocent games can go if one player takes advantage of those who they find too weak. Credit must go to Anthony Vyt, who plays young Tim. I am sure after you watch his daring performance, you will despise his character wholeheartedly.

“When It Melts” is a highlight of what can happen if the trauma gained in childhood goes untreated and when the perpetrator is left unpunished. Adolescence is a cruel age that we as adults must recognize and help our children pass with pride and dignity. When, sadly, neglect persists in the family, and some turn a blind eye to obvious things, it can get ugly. It’s a sad story. Shocking and thought-provoking. And if you are a parent, it is indeed scarier than you can imagine. So knowing this, what can we do to prevent tragedies like the one described in the film from ever happening again? All that I know is that we fail to learn from past mistakes. But I do hope we can learn after watching this beautifully narrated film.

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