Family Affair

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When he was ten years old, Chico Colvard accidentally shot his older sister, Paula, with his father's gun. The Colvard family never fully healed from the incident, but not solely because of Chico's mistake. Rather, it was while Paula was in the hospital that she and her two sisters, Angelika and Chiquita, admitted that their dad had been sexually abusing them for years. The reverberations of this confession extended from the elder Colvard being briefly jailed for the crime to the kids' mother---a German immigrant---cutting off contact with her children because the three girls continued to maintain amiable contact with their father after his release.

What the movie's interviews reveal about the mind-set of these three incest survivors is indeed revelatory, yet the film is really about Chico's own story as much as (and often more than) his siblings' tale---which makes this chronicle of healing both intriguingly personal and frustratingly limited. He doesn't pretend to have any answers, but Colvard doesn't make any attempts to get at the bigger-picture issue of abuse as a social phenomenon either. Far be it from us to deny the director his deserved catharsis or to dissuade someone from speaking out about abuse. Still, Family Affair feels less like a documentary than one man's filmed therapy marathon, to which you're voyeuristically privy in an oversharing-on-Oprah sort of way.

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