Directed by: #DannyWu
Documentary Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
When Leaving Neverland was released in early 2019, it featured some shocking revelations and created a maelstrom of renewed discussion and opinions regarding the accusations mounted against global pop superstar Michael Jackson, alleging sexual abuse of multiple young children at his home at Neverland Ranch, a shadow that hung over him for the rest of his life until his death in 2009. But by relying almost solely on the stories of two alleged victims, it arguably also left us with a lot of questions about the validity of its claims.
New documentary Square One from Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Danny Wu takes another look at these now infamous accusations, it's main focus being the case of Jordan Chandler, the first accuser to ever come forward. The legal case put forward by the Chandler family was seeking millions of dollars in damages from Jackson after alleged sexual abuse of their child, and the film investigates how these charges seemed to be maliciously orchestrated by Jordan's father Evan as part of a bitter custody battle with the boys mother in the hopes of extorting the late musician. The film also asks why if these claims were true, would they not want Jackson convicted rather than a simple pay-out and if this was the case that unfortunately opened the door to the several similar attempts that the late musician had to endure for the rest of his years?
Where Leaving Neverland drew many blanks on physical evidence to support its claims, Square One is ready to back itself all the way. While Jordan Chandler himself is not present in the film (he has not spoked publicly since that time), the film gathers first-person accounts of several witnesses from various areas of Jackson's life, including Jackson's nephew and others who were children present at the Neverland Ranch at the same time as Chandler. There are even witnesses from inside the Chandler camp themselves refuting the claims themselves, along with transcripts supposedly detailing the conspiracy that Evan Chandler was launching against Jackson.
But the film doesn't stop with this single case, it also looks at the long line of Jackson accusers since, some with a history of unfounded slander against prominent public figures and most simply looking to get the next big scoop in what was a never-ending media frenzy that essentially subjected Jackson to a trial by public-opinion, perhaps one of the first to be subjected to such a practice that seems to be more and more commonplace today.
It seems that there have been several counter-arguments raised against the revelations found in Leaving Neverland, but Wu's film manages to stand tallest amongst them all. Wu never lets the film get tainted with speculation, choosing instead to present the facts as they stand and allow people to make up their own minds.
Though opinions will forever differ on this debate that continues to rage on, Square One is a simple yet carefully though-out presentation of facts and testimonies, never resorting to conjecture or hearsay, but simply trying to set the record straight and a must-see for those seeking further education on the subject.