Some Fact too much Fiction

Gail O'Grady in Every 9 Seconds (1997)

Janet Sutherland (Gail O'Grady) is less than happy to find her ex husband Richard (Christopher Meloni) standing at her door as he has been released from prison early having been sentenced to 18 months for domestic abuse. Knowing that he isn't going to stop showing up she takes their daughter to her sister's and then returns home where she plans to kill Richard when he returns later that day. But as she has a drink to pluck up courage Janet calls a help line and speaks to Carrie (Amy Pietz), a reporter who is going through the training to be a call operator. Listening to what Janet says before she hangs up Carrie takes it upon herself to try and find Janet before she does anything stupid whilst Carrie's boyfriend Ray (Michael Riley) tries to find her before it is too late.

Look, any movie which tackles the subject of domestic abuse deserves some credit because if bringing the subject out in the open helps just one person, male or female, then it has achieved something. Unfortunately despite some good intentions "Every 9 Seconds" is not the most effective of movies which tackles the subject and in fact is less about the realism of domestic abuse and more of a thriller built upon the subject which ends up wrong in more ways than right.

Amy Pietz in Every 9 Seconds (1997)

Now from a storyline point of view "Every 9 Seconds" is a bit all over the place as it tries to tackle various sub plots and scenarios. There is the main storyline with Carrie and Janet but then there is a subplot surrounding a school girl called Missy with a jealous, violent boyfriend and then there is the subplot surrounding Carrie's back story, the fact she is a reporter with a past connection to abuse which makes things more personal. It ends up too scattered and that is a shame because once in a while it comes up with a good point.

But I can't but help think that in trying to create a thriller out of domestic abuse it gets it wrong. The opening scene of Richard showing up to Janet's home having served time makes you ask why did she open the door, why not call the cops as she had restraining order. Then there is the help line, why didn't they do a proper background check on Carrie to not only discover she is a reporter but one with abuse in her background. I could go on because surely after receiving a call from a woman who says she is going to kill her husband why didn't they phone the police.

All of this is annoying because as I said any movie which deals with domestic abuse deserves some credit but "Every 9 Seconds" makes the mistake of being exceptionally one sided. It ignores that there are men who are abused as well and in a scene where Richard attends a counselling session for abusive husbands we meet a bunch of vile stereotypes who seem to enjoy hearing about what he did. As I said this is more of a thriller than a realistic movie but it is still a shame that it ends up unable to acknowledge the other side of domestic abuse.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Every 9 Seconds" might help someone in a situation it is not the best movie which deals with domestic abuse as it has big plot holes and is one sided as it attempts to be more of a thriller.

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