Love, Scott (CIFF 2018)

In October of 2013, Scott Jones was attacked in Nova Scotia and left paralyzed below the waist. Scott is gay. He believes he was attacked because he is gay. The police would not prosecute the case as a hate crime. And if that story isn’t enough to make you sad on paper, then here is a movie that brings you inside the life of Scott after the attack, as he struggles to make peace with the event and its aftermath and begin the process of healing.

That is a sad story and it really is a shame that we live in a society where people still think like that. And Love, Scott pleads with your emotions to love it for that simple reason. For much of the production, Scott is portrayed less as an individual and more as a symbol. When it’s an intimate look at him as a person, it’s really effective. But for much of the time he’s standing in for something larger, and the film’s not entirely sure how to make that work, especially because it jumps back and forth in time and its narration paints him as of more a victim than a survivor.

Scott’s an interesting guy and his story is heartbreaking. Most documentaries would focus on him for a large portion of the running time and then turn him into something more – a representation of the gay community, a beacon of hope, etc. Love, Scott, conversely, tells its story in chunks and segments that aren’t always linear and constantly stall that momentum. It’s edited in a way that tries to do something a bit different but ultimately harms it. Sometimes the tried-and-true is that way because it works. And with documentaries especially you need to keep us engaged or you lose the audience and it’s extremely difficult to recapture that attention. This film relies on its story and the inherent sympathy and empathy involved to hold us, and it’s not quite enough to get through even its brief 75-minute running time.

Conclusion: Love, Scott is at its best when it’s an intimate portrait of its subject, but it too often strays from that path to become anything more than a generic documentary.

Recommendation: Love, Scott will undoubtedly mean more to some than others, so if its story touches you on a more personal level, then it’s worth watching.

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