The Jaundiced Eye

The Jaundiced Eye


Reviewed by: Nicola Osborne

When Stephen Matthews, a divorced gay man, discovered that his father Melvin had been accused of sexually abusing Stephen's son he had trouble believing it possible. When he returned home to find out what on earth was going on he found himself arrested... thus followed a traumatic decade of trials, imprisonment and appeals during which time both Stephen and Melvin found their lives monumentally changed.

This is a very timely and utterly fascinating insight into the panic that rages in modern society over child abuse and paedophilia - especially given the added problem that some people still mistakenly believe gay man = paedophile.

In a society willing to believe that everyone is a danger to their children, a few well-meaning questions can lead to an intensely complicated and troubling situation. The film staggers the viewer when revealing how the incompetence of the legal and child protection systems leads to a family being torn apart.

Incorporating courtroom tapes with interviews of Stephen, Melvin (who in prison transformed himself from patriarch to muscle-bound bible-basher) and the rest of the family, as well as a plethora of legal people and Stephen's bitter ex-wife, the facts are made more blurred than the original rulings suggest.

Additionally the director appears to have spoken to the boy involved, now nearing the end of his teens, whose tortuous message to his father forms a devastating companion to the discussion with several child abuse charities who somewhat back-up the Matthew's family's claim of wrongful imprisonment.

Completely compelling viewing that will almost certainly make you want to shout out in anger at the screen.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Documentary about two gay men's struggle to overturn convictions for child abuse.
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Keith Hennessey Brown ***

Director: Nonny de la Pena

Writer: Nonny de la Pena

Starring: Melvin Matthews, Stephen Matthews

Year: 1999

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2000

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