Documentary movie review: Rewind

home videos

RewindSasha Joseph Neulinger dug through a ‘vast collection” of home videos. He reconstructed the “unthinkable story” of a child “and exposed the vile abuse passed through generations.” What is remarkable is that the abused child was Sasha Joseph Neulinger.

Rewind is a difficult film to watch. Yet it was not as awful as it might have been. Piers Marchant of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette nails it. “The old footage of Sasha clearly cracking under the strain of his family’s betrayal contrasts poignantly with the strong, centered man he has become.” Making a movie as therapy, perhaps.

It is also a fascinating story about memory – what you remember, what you – possibly necessarily – forget. Indeed, there is a bit of the investigative reporter in Neulinger. He interviews his parents, psychiatrists, prosecutors, and the police to fill in the gaps in his memory. In doing so, he “builds a disturbingly precise picture, conveying both the cyclical nature of such secret horrors and the difficulty in prosecuting cases that involve children.”

There is a small piece of this tale I do vaguely recall because it involved a somewhat prominent person. Not incidentally, we discover yet again that the criminal justice mechanism is not always a level playing field.

Young Sasha was clearly pained in the home videos, but it was unclear to his mother why. What makes this tolerable to watch is the adult Sasha, who takes an almost arm’s length investigatory role. Despite the subject matter, Rewind isn’t salacious or grubby.

And – not really a spoiler – adult Sasha is OK, even thriving, and apparently not bitter. He has a new name and a mission to try to help others who were in the position he was in.

The 44 reviewers from Rotten Tomatoes all gave this documentary a thumbs up. I would thoroughly agree.