Monday, October 21, 2013

Movie Review: After Tiller

*Portions of this review were published in January as part of my coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival

After Tiller

In 2009, late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller was assassinated while attending church services in Kansas. His death left four of his friends and former colleagues as the only practicing late-term abortionists in the country.

In After Tiller, directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson invite us into the lives and practices of these four doctors, as they struggle to provide a service they deem morally and ethically necessary as groups literally and figuratively gather outside to stop them. You could criticize the movie for being one-sided, but the quiet tone of the film is less about debate as it is about demonstration. Most people never see the inside of an abortion clinic, but the picket lines, banners and megaphones outside paint a picture of dark alleyways and rusty scalpels. By making this documentary, the audience is shown a staff of emotionally invested, caring people, who struggle with the ethical implications of what they do and worry about what a woman may resort to if denied the service that only they can provide.

In June, I wrote a post listing After Tiller as one of four documentaries that changed my mind, or caused me to reconsider my position on a controversial issue. The film is a compelling narrative that I would recommend for all viewers, and must-see for anyone who considers themselves either pro-life or pro-choice.

There are no simple answers to the abortion debate, but by stripping away the yelling, screaming and high emotion that typically surrounds a discussion of the issue, Shane and Wilson are able to provide probing and insightful answers from some of the most hated people in America.

Grade: A-

*After Tiller opens in Utah theaters on Friday, Oct. 18.

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