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The Independent Critic

Written and Directed by
Sharon Wright, Gary C. Warren
Starring
Sharon Wright, Jeffrey Staab
Running Time
5:37

 "Tell Me You Love Me" Review 
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According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million women in the United States are victims of intimate partner violence each year.

There are 16,800 homicides and 2.2 million medically treated injuries due to intimate partner violence, with an economic impact of $37 billion.

85% of reported domestic violence victims are women, though it is widely accepted that most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police.

1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.

Intimate Partner Violence happens to intelligent women, beautiful women, rich women, economically challenged women and women of every ethnic background, income level and on and on. Intimate Partner Violence happens to men, too...and children...and the disabled.

Tell Me You Love Me is inspired by real events and tells the story of one woman whose violent experiences at the hands of someone who "loved" her are memories that haunt her in every moment and at seemingly every turn. Everywhere she turns, she sees him or it or whatever that was that attacked her so brutally. From simply entering another room to the innocent sight and sound of a neighbor boy playing basketball, this young woman is bruised as much inside as she was outside.

Featuring an astounding and uncomfortable performance from co-writer and co-director Sharon Wright, Tell Me You Love Me is painful precisely because it doesn't feel "dramatic" ... it feels real. The words that are spoken, borne out of a real life experience, feel painstakingly authentic as if the writer knew, absolutely knew, that every moment in this film, every word must be absolute truth or there would be no sense in creating this film.

After all, how do you create this kind of truth without scaring the hell out of your audience?

You don't.

In just shy of six minutes Sharon Wright and Gary C. Warren have crafted a film that leaves in your mind unforgettable words and images and facial expressions. Very little is known about this women, identified simply as "the girlfriend." We don't need to know, really, because that's the entire point of Tell Me You Love Me. This may be inspired by one woman's experience, but this woman could be your mother, daughter, sister, best friend, co-worker, doctor or even your wife.

Indeed, Jeffrey Staab brings a haunting yet menacing normalcy to his role as "the boyfriend," a vivid reminder that domestic violence is inflicted by those who supposedly "love" us. It is even more disturbing to realize that this man, and I use that term lightly, is a portrait of a not so distant memory. "The boyfriend" is not just a character, but a flesh and blood perpetrator brought to life by Staab.

D.P. Alejandro Cruz captures beautifully, somehow that word feels wrong here, the physical and psychological brutality of this event and these memories, while Douglas Edward's original music is the perfect cinematic companion that gives the film a spark of energy yet also keeps it from becoming too intense to bear. Warren also edits the film, intertwining within the film's fabric scenes that convincingly flash back and forth between painful memory and present reality.

Tell Me You Love Me is only recently completed, and will be having its world premiere at the Barebones Film Festival next month in the Domestic Awareness category.

Please do note that survivors of abuse and domestic violence would do well to view the film in the safe company of a friend and/or loved one due to its accurate depiction of domestic violence.

With her last film, the inspiring Change for a Dollar, Wright reminded all of us of the power of one person to make a difference in the world. Tell Me You Love Me is a far more intimate cinematic experience, but no less powerful a reminder of the disturbing ways that one person can change our lives, our identity and even impact our day-to-day existence.

While I haven't actually met you, Sharon Wright, I can tell you that I love your film.
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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