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Beyond Hatred - documentary DVD review
BEYOND HATRED Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Jean-Paul Chenu, Marie-Cecile Chenu
Director: Olivier Meyrou   Distributor: First Run Features
DVD release: 20 May 2008   Runtime: 85 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Languages (French), Subtitles (English)

Beyond Hatred shows us the pieces of a family - father Jean-Paul, mother Marie-Cecile, and sister Aurelie - haunted by the murder of a son. We hear their anguish to begin with and are drawn to listen to more. Slowly the story emerges: In 2002, Francois Chenu left a bar and went through a park. There he met three young skinheads who were looking for an Arab to beat; instead they found a gay man. They asked him if he was gay, and he said he was - it was not in his nature to hide his orientation. The young fascists beat Francois severely and, thinking him dead, heaved him into a pond to hide the evidence.

All this is heart-wrenching for a parent, and I hope most humans. This family is followed from a point two years after the murder. They've been awaiting a trial for all this time, sorting out their feelings toward the skinheads.

We hear the lawyers talk and reason about their methods for prosecuting and defending these young murderers. We see long shots of Leo Legrange park in Rheims, France, where Francois died, beaten and alone, but with his honor and integrity intact. We hear about the verdict and how the family feels afterword.

We never hear from the criminals, though we learn about their lives and what may have led them to be skinheads. I'd like to know more about them but am left to wonder.

What is most striking is the pacing. Director Olivier Meyrou lets the story gently unfold, allowing enough time for dramatic pauses, tortured pauses, as those affected by this crime sort their feelings before putting their thoughts into words.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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