What They Say:
Knots A Forced Marriage Story is a feature-length documentary film that examines the truth about forced marriage in the U.S. through the complicated experiences of those who have survived it. Forced marriage is a human rights abuse that has lifelong traumatic consequences. Three forced marriage survivors – Nina, Sara, and Fraidy – take us on a journey through their lives and fight alongside advocates, experts, and lawmakers to end this human rights abuse in the U.S.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
“Knots: A Forced Marriage Story” is a tough movie to write about because the subject matter is too important to strictly “review” in a typical sense. Right off the bat, I want to say that the movie is flawed. It doesn’t go as deep on the subject as I would have liked. I believe this will make a better launching point for a serious discussion rather than an all-encompassing argument around a problem (and a solution which is – frustratingly – far from achievable at this point). There are people I would have loved to have heard from that we don’t (and there are stories that seem neutered despite the seriousness of the issue). Despite all this though I need to stress that all of this is pure academic; that the movie itself is not perfect is no excuse to not watch it, and really, “Knots: A Forced Marriage Story” is about a problem so serious and terrible that it needs to be viewed and discussed despite the flaws.
This isn’t a documentary that has a big budget or a major studio behind it. To my knowledge it isn’t even available on any of the major streaming services despite being released months ago. There is a sad irony in that fact, as people in the film talk about how this is an issue that many don’t want to discuss, all while the film itself is almost impossible to view in a convenient way(Update: Apple TV just put it on their service). The whole situation is a disgrace and people NEED to be talking about this! “Knots: A Forced Marriage Story” talks to several young women who found themselves in a situation that many could not even fathom being in: Forced marriage. Although many will read that sentence and think that the film covers forced marriage from a foreign country like Iran or China, the sad reality is that all the women in this film found themselves in forced marriages in the United States of America!
Yes, you heard that right: Apparently, unbeknown to people like me, forced marriage is legal in a whopping FORTY-SIX states (the only states to say no to this madness are Delaware, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania…not even California has the heart to outlaw this despicable act)! The stories shared by the women who have survived their forced marriage are various and all equally heartbreaking. Some were forced to marry a man within their church. Some because they were part of a cult. Some simply because the mothers and fathers were messed up in the head (in my opinion, of course). Interestingly, no man is interviewed about their experiences in this, which is either a huge oversight (or no man wanted to volunteer this information). In all cases the marriages were legal and done by the book, so none of these women could prosecute the people who put them in these terrible situations.
In many cases the women were married when they were minors, basically giving their parents and legal guardians the opportunity to arrange the marriage without having to take their child’s feeling into account. If the fact that young girls are being forced to marry against their will in the freest nation in the world isn’t enough to make your blood boil, clips of the issue being brought up in congress to protect the children who are in this situation will make you equally enraged, as politicians cite concerns of personal freedoms being violated for…some reason, I don’t know (the arguments don’t make much sense to me). It should be noted that the film probably shows a little bias by only showing Republican lawmakers who are disinterested in addressing this problem. While the clips speak for themselves, considering New York and California also have not made forced marriage illegal…well, I’m suspecting the issue is not a priority for Democrat lawmakers either.
“Knots: A Forced Marriage Story” is not a fun movie to watch. It makes you ashamed as you shiver with anger watching it. I desperately wanted this to be a docuseries where this whole thing could be examined from top to bottom, left to right, and turned inside and out. At 76 minutes in length, this is WAY too short for the seriousness of the issue, and we need a much more comprehensive look at how we as a society continue to let this happen and how we as human beings have failed these young women! Again, though, as stated above, I don’t want to discourage you from watching this movie because of defects in the film itself, because this is not only something that needs to be discussed, this is a problem most are unaware is even happening.
I myself was not aware that this was something that was happening here in the states, and I feel deeply ashamed that I wasn’t aware of this. Bringing this topic to people’s attention is far better than not bringing it to their attention at all, so “Knots: A Forced Marriage Story” deserves my highest recommendation for that reason alone. It must also be stressed though that watching this movie will not make you a better person. You will not be part of the solution if you simply watch and do nothing. If you hate what you see in this film (or even hate what you read in this review) you need to speak up and try to engage with our elected officials, or else nothing is going to happen. Sharing the film is a great start but people need to demand our leaders write laws to bring this practice to a stop, and that only works if we all speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves.
Streamed By: Laemmle