Roll Red Roll eventually addresses the larger ramifications of a crime and its after effects. But it starts out small because it has to. Supporting characters in this documentary include a group of football players from Steubenville, Ohio. And as the police saw it in 2012, they allegedly raped a girl at a party. The police then has to talk to those teens and figure out the truth.
The documentary uses enough footage from those interviews, which has the adults involved in the cast on the hot seat. And even the adults catch themselves hearing and repeating the outlandish rumors that add to the shock value in addition to the actual rape. These interviews capture a shocking ambivalence from these adults.
But mostly, the adults entrenched themselves in opposite camps. The majority excused the boys and slut shamed the girl. But a few were on the girl’s side, reporting on the case and risking their safety in doing so. This reporting made people all over the world aware of the case, and made the girl’s defenders feel less alone.
Making a movie about real life teenagers is a risky thing. Either the victim has to come out which she legally can’t do or it will try to shame the perpetrators which is the job of the legal system. This leaves the adults to be occasionally be in the center of the frame, who have their own ideologies that the film unpacks.
This is a raw and justifiably angry film. It shows us the courtroom that found these football players guilty, apologizing for only some of their actions. It also thankfully stops from being too confrontational, but it takes us close enough to the edge to give its audience a nauseating feeling that there are generations of people capably of cruelty.
- Release Date: 4/10/2018