Title: Test Pattern
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Shatara Michelle Ford
Starring: Brittany S. Hall, Will Brill, Gail Bean
Runtime: 1 hr 22 mins
What It Is: When Renesha (Hall) and Evan (Brill) meet, it’s not exactly love at first sight, but their relationship quickly blossoms into something meaningful. One night, Renesha decides to go out with her friend, Amber (Bean), only for the worst to happen. She becomes a victim of sexual assault and the next day, her relationship with Evan is put to the test. Renesha has trouble processing the events of the previous night while Evan drives her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit, wanting to start on a path towards justice in this awful situation. The lack of help available to the two of them becomes apparent and their relationship suffers major setbacks as they both try to deal with their own emotional responses.
What We Think: This is a prime example of a slow burn movie done right. The characters of Renesha and Evan are so endearing and from the get-go, the viewer has no option but to root for them. Of course, this is attributed to the brilliant performances by Hall and Brill and the insanely realistic and awkward dialogue that leaves me no choice but to question if any of it was improvised. They both had quite the uphill battle in portraying the difficult leads and neither should have any regrets. It’s hard to pinpoint anything not done well in this film. The camerawork is meaningful as each scene is shot with fragility, as if the shot may crack with any wrong move. The soundtrack really electrifies the story and sets the pacing for every scene. There are plenty of educational moments as the film highlights problems with the U.S. healthcare system, lessons in open communication, and, of course, what the effects of sexual assault may look like and possible steps to be taken after it occurs. There’s an intended uncomfortableness that will be experienced by anyone who watches this film. I often felt like a voyeur, prying into the lives of this seemingly perfect couple as I watched emotional breakdowns unfold through intense scenes, often without any dialogue. It’s an uncomfortable glimpse into the horrific yet utterly realistic events of a sexual assault and its ramifications.
Our Grade: A-, You might want a box of tissues close by while watching this one. There are so many emotions you’re going to experience if you decide to undertake the endeavor of watching this film and while not all of them are negative, they all pack a punch. There’s seemingly nothing objectively wrong with the film and while at first, I resented the unsatisfying ending, I’m not sure there’s a more fitting one. I went through a stressful, heart-rending eighty minutes to watch this film and while that’s certainly not the most exciting of experiences to recommend, I absolutely do.