Yesterday I had the opportunity to screen a new documentary called DON’T DIVORCE ME! a new documentary airing on HBO next week. I was instantly intrigued by the invitation, given the fact that I have newly divorced friends with young children and am the daughter of a divorced couple. My own parents divorced when I was much older than the young children shown in this film, but I have always thought about the profound impact divorce can have on children. I see it on my friend’s young children and I was curious to see how one could produce a sensitive, thoughtful movie on the subject.
And this film does. It’s only 30-minutes long and it’s the kind of movie your own children could watch. They don’t show parents arguing, they don’t talk about how the parents got to the place they’re in. The focus is on the kids. It’s about how they are. Throughout the film, they show kids holding signs, which express their feelings that read:
“Don’t take your anger out on me.”
“Be honest with me.”
“Don’t make me a messenger.”
It’s powerful stuff. Whether these words are written on these signs or spoken out loud, these kids care. They miss the life they once had with two parents living under the same roof and are struggling to move on. Brooke, aged 7, boldly and wisely states, “No one invented families. People made families to spread love.” These kids are let down that their family unit is no longer one. They are insightful and they are all working to build a new future, sometimes with their parents, sometimes alone in their mind,. What strikes me about them is that they are incredibly resilient. They even ask each other insightful questions about their situations and these are not kids holding their feelings inside their hearts.
During a “Lunch Bunch” scene where four children talk over lunch in a classroom, one tells the others, “Some people think it’s all their fault.” In the case of divorce, everyone feels responsible, especially the children. The film shows children equating memories to objects, as one little girl does in a special pink jewelry box, and how concrete aspects of one’s life makes a difference to kids.
Along the way, you have quick shots, great music (including “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash), drawings, songs and photos.
The film was made by executive producer Rosie O’Donnell (HBO’s “A Family Is a Family Is a Family”) and Emmy(R)-winning director Amy Schatz (HBO’s “Classical Baby”), and debuts THURSDAY, SEPT. 20 (6:30-7:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. It’s truly a film from the hearts of the children interviewed in the film. It’s a film that can help families going through it.
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this review but I really benefitted from the experience and mean everything mentioned above.