IF I GET SICK FROM A MEAL I had at a restaurant, I just will not go back there ever again; but I would not say I am afraid of the place. There is a person I know who keeps the temperature in their home to a cold setting, to the point where I am uncomfortable. Anytime I am invited over I know to dress warm. Now for many years I was afraid to go into any type of locker room, due to what I saw and experienced through my school years. Whether it was the locker room at a friend’s tennis club or at a company I worked for or at a place where I was a guest fitness presenter; I was always anxious and wary whenever I had to walk into a locker room. Sure, I see the irony in this since I am a fitness/yoga instructor; but that fear was always there. In fact, at one health club all the instructors were assigned specific lockers and mine was in the corner of an alcove. I could not use it because I felt too exposed and vulnerable stuck in a back corner. I had to talk to the fitness director and tell them I would not be able to teach there if I had to keep the locker; I needed one that was on an aisle in a more public area of the locker room. The director agreed to move me after I shared with him some of the abuse I had received in my younger days. THE REASON I MENTIONED THE PREVIOUS examples is because with all of them I was able to make a choice on how to manage the situation. I think about my elementary school years and the only drills we had periodically were fire and tornado drills. There was nothing else that was pressing enough where the students had to go through training drills. Presently, the amount of school shootings I have heard about is horrific. School entrances with metal detectors, training drills regarding an active shooter in the building; it is frightening to me. And what I find worse is all the hollow bluster politicians spew out on how we need to change things to prevent such heinous acts from ever happening again. Let me add a special appalling ugly aspect, the people who deny that these brutal crimes ever took place. What is wrong with humanity where we are at such a low level of consciousness and empathy? What about the students who survive? Do you ever hear anything about how they are being taken care of after being part of such an awful act? They do not have a choice; they still must get, you would hope, an education. Please see what I am talking about by watching this tough drama about the aftermath of a school shooting. THE WORLD LOOKS SO DIFFERENT FOR Vada Cavell, played by Jenna Ortega (Scream, Jane the Virgin-TV), after she survived a school tragedy. The question is how she can move forward when everything looks so overwhelming. With Maddie Ziegler (The Book of Henry, West Side Story) as Mia Reed, Niles Fitch (St. Vincent, This is Us-TV) as Quinton Hasland, Will Ropp (The Way Back, The Unhealer) as Nick Feinstien and newcomer Lumi Pollack as Amelia Cavell; the acting from this young cast was emotional and authentic. Kudos to the writers for creating a script that came across in such a real and honest way. I was pulled into the story right from the start and thought Jenna was outstanding in the role. While watching this film, I was thinking about the shootings that took place at Parkland and Sandy Hook and could only imagine what the intensity level must have been for the students and their families. If this picture is only showing a fraction of the reality, then how can anyone in a position to make change sit and do nothing, let alone deny such things had even happened?
3 ½ stars
ONCE YOU GET SHOVED DOWN INTO that dark place it is hard to convey any of your feelings to anyone. I not only have seen this but I have experienced it. There was a boy in my class that was naturally quiet. I could count on one hand the amount of times I heard him speak in class. Honestly, I cannot say whether he was a good or poor student; he did not stand out which in itself was okay. The first time I had an inkling something was not right was in the locker room. He was in the same row as me, so I was a witness to what had happened to him. While changing out of his gym clothes, two students came up from behind and shoved him into his locker (he was slight of build) and slammed the door shut. As the two students guffawed at their antics a student a few lockers over told the two to knock it off and to go back to their lockers. The student walked over to let the boy out of his locker. Tentatively stepping out, he thanked the fellow student and continued dressing. I kept glancing over to see if he was okay but his expression never changed; it was sort of like a blank stare while he kept looking into his locker as if he had lost something in it. I DREADED THE TIMES WHEN THAT student was not in class because I was the next likely one to be targeted by those bullies. It is a horrible thing to say, I know; but the two of us were on the bottom end of the pecking order that made up our boys’ gym class. It was as if each of us on the low end had this mentality of “every man for himself.” No one amongst us would ever bring it up in conversation and speaking for myself, I never talked about it to anyone. Even with my friends who were in the same class, I would not bring it up. I cannot tell you why that was the case; I only know there was a sense of shame and embarrassment attached to the abuse and bullying each of us had to endure. When I hear in the news about a student committing suicide, I have to say I can understand the reasons why when the act is a result of bullying/abuse. At that age I feel students do not have all the skill sets to cope with such an act of violence so they retreat into themselves. An example of this can be seen in this dramatic, film festival winner. ONE-YEAR MELINDA SARDINE PLAYED BY Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper, Charlie’s Angels), had lots of friends and was doing well in school; the next year, no one is talking to her and her grades are failing. How did one year make such a difference? With Elizabeth Perkins (Must Love Dogs, This is Us-TV) as Joyce Sordino, Allison Siko (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-TV, CryBaby Lane-TV movie) as Heather, Robert John Burke (Tombstone, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) as Mr. Neck and Steve Zahn (War for the Planet of the Apes, Rescue Dawn) as Mr. Freeman; watching this movie was an eye opening experience. Seeing a young Kristen Stewart, I can now appreciate what directors see in her. For such a young performer with sparse dialog, she easily was able to express her emotions and feelings. Despite the script being predictable, my attention to the story did not waiver. Maybe because I could identify with some of the scenes, I found myself feeling closer to Melinda’s story; and speaking of the story, it was an important one that needed to be told. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits that was as equally important.