As a film about a crime...it tells the story adequately, from one perspective.
As an analysis of that crime...it falls short. And, somehow and for some unknown reason, amid all the news footage, talking heads and a whirlwind history lesson...the bare bones [of the case] get lost.
Jennifer Laude was killed. Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton was charged, tried, found guilty and duly incarcerated. She was 26, he was 19.
By all accounts, the case caused a media frenzy and became a political battleground for Transgender rights and anti-American sentiment...and, still, the bare bones of the case got lost.
This film serves a purpose...as secondhand reportage for a [potentially] wider, hand-picked audience. It's neither investigative nor revelatory. It neither approaches nor even addresses the defence...nor, most importantly, the mitigation.
Yes...it has to be addressed, as horrendous [and avoidable] as this case was, there were mitigating circumstances that reduced Pemberton's charge from murder to manslaughter. It was not premeditated. He did not possess the mens rea - required for murder.
Yes...it has to be said, now...loud and clear. Trans*sex workers [just like any other worker] have to have a duty of care...clients must know what they are paying for up front, no surprises...and, perhaps, armed with this trans*transparency the violence will end. Neither of these young lives deserved their fate...if this film helps in any way...good. But...in reality, if anything is ever going to change [for the better], all sides, all opinions have to be brought into the fray!
A film that skirts around the big issue without ever addressing it...that's called negligence. And...negligence is dangerous.
When a transgender Filipina woman is found dead in a motel room with a U.S. Marine as the leading suspect, grassroots activists demand accountability. The ensuing case lays bare a constellation of social and political tensions between the United States and the Philippines.