December 27, 2019  (Web Review)

Home Truth

(2018) 72 min. DVD: $89: high schools & public libraries; $295: community colleges; $395: colleges & universities. DRA. Women Make Movies (www.wmm.com). PPR.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Simultaneously hard-hitting and fair-minded, Home Truth centers on a Colorado woman whose life was upended by abuse. Jessica Lenahan, who lives in Castle Rock, already had a son, Jessie, when she met Simon Gonzales. After she became pregnant with a daughter, they got married and went on to have two more daughters. Since Simon was a camcorder enthusiast, co-directors April Hayes and Katia Maguire are able to incorporate lots of home-video footage. As the years went on, Simon became controlling, keeping a close eye on Jessica’s whereabouts and complicating her efforts to leave the home. When his behavior became dangerously erratic, Jessica took out a restraining order, and the daughters made it clear that they didn’t want to see him. And then one day in June of 1999, the girls didn’t come home, and Simon called to say that he had taken them to an amusement park. The police told Jessica not to worry, since he was their biological father. But he would end up killing all three, shooting up a police station, and dying when officers returned fire. “I did everything I was supposed to do,” Jessica says, “and the law still failed me.” She filed one lawsuit against the police department for non-enforcement of her restraining order and another through an international tribunal. Her son Jessie laments that their relationship took a backseat to these legal proceedings; he moved in with his grandmother, and has since started his own family. Jessica continued her fight for justice until she was too tired, and her efforts have definitely made a difference, both in Castle Rock and in communities across the country. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (K. Fennessy)