The Four Walls Of Charlotte Moreland
28 Mar 2022
Joe Benedetto and Alison Stover
Alison Stover and Joe Benedetto
Alison Stover, Jane Dashow, Rissa Davis
It takes a lot to talk about domestic violence. Sufferers have historically either not been listened to or (brow)beaten into silence by their abusers. The arrest rates for these types of crimes are shockingly low, and in some cases falling, with many victims never seeing their day in court. The process of prosecution can sometimes be almost as traumatic as the abuse itself and unfathomably can also include some of the most drawn out cases in the entire legal system. Something is still very wrong in the way modern society treats these crimes and their victims, while survivors are literally screaming at the system to implement change.
In The Four Walls Of Charlotte Moreland writer, director, producer and star, Alison Stover is taking a stand and saying enough is enough as she shouts from the rooftops about what it means to be a survivor of domestic abuse. A survivor herself of a five year abusive relationship, Stover knows personally how it feels to be gaslit and told how worthless she is, while on the other hand still receiving praise and affection. These insidious practices are given a strong vocal airing right from the beginning of the film with voice messages from Hudson, Charlotte Moreland's ex, being played over images of her displaying her grief, naked, alone and vulnerable in the shower.
There is no easy let-up from here on in, as Charlotte tries her best to come to terms with her past and the trauma she has experienced. Now suffering from agoraphobia and a disconnection to who she once was, Charlotte has stepped away from her work and finds it hard to see anyone at all. Hudson, on the other hand, has diversified his tactics and now abuses her from a distance as he stalks her and threatens her through texts and voice messages.
Eventually, after getting herself buoyed up enough through medication to leave her apartment, Charlotte tries to talk things through with her therapist, as well as a few other strong women who can empathise with how she feels. This process, as Charlotte discusses with psychologist Dr Sandri (Jane Dashow), is a marathon not a sprint, and initially just being able to voice how terrible her treatment was, how she didn't ask for or deserve it, and how He was a liar, manipulator and abuser, is achievement enough in itself.
As you may imagine, this twenty minute short is not an easy watch, and may trigger strong emotional responses from the viewer with its bare, open dialogue and its graphic depictions of grief. There is a sense of hope that comes through as Charlotte learns to at least live with her trauma and develops her resilience to being out in the world again, but by no means is there a resolution or a happy ending to be found.
Technically the film is serviceable to the themes and the plot, with a couple of nice directorial points here and there, but not that much else which stands out. The script has its issues, with certain scenarios or characters not really ringing true, while of course the descriptions of manipulation and abuse are all on the money. Stover has a lot to do to carry the film as its main point of focus, requiring her to move from severe melancholia to righteous indignation to forced confidence through maddening desperation, and it feels like this may have been asking a bit too much. The other women in the story give good support, however when Rissa Davis' Detective Demps shares her story and endorses lethal violence as a course of action, some of the film's realism gets lost.
The Four Walls Of Charlotte Moreland is truly a brave and important film, highlighting an issue which sadly gets less attention than it deserves from all corners of society. Alison Stover should be lauded for her determination to tell this/her story and for getting this film produced. Regardless of its technical aspect it's hard to think of another film which comes so close to revealing the cruelty and abomination of domestic abuse as well as the devastating affects that it causes.