Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Leaving Neverland (2019) directed by Dan Reed

This is a tough watch. Two victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Michael Jackson talk in clinical detail about what happened to them as children. It’s not the kind of thing that I feel comfortable writing about, but I was completely convinced by the story. Gut wrenching. I understand where people are coming from when they say that a person with that much money could be the target of some kind of grift, especially since there were people who denied that it happened, but at some point you have to look at the pattern.

The tricky thing is Macauley Culkin’s continued denial that it happened to him as well. That seems to be one of the main things that got Jackson his acquittal in that last trial. I’m not saying Culkin is lying, like Wade Robson felt he had to for years. It is entirely possible that Jackson didn’t abuse Culkin. That does not mean that he didn’t abuse the others.

One of the hardest things to deal with is how completely the families had been won over by Jackson. His power, influence and talent were undeniable. And apparently he could be charming as well. The gateway to a lifestyle he provided them would tempt anyone. Still it’s hard to wrap my head around letting children sleep in the bedroom of an adult stranger. That thought haunts the family interviews. The effects of this on the families is a secondary heartbreak to the actual abuse, but it is nonetheless heartbreaking.

This is not something I can easily recommend, especially to people who may have had similar abuse in their pasts. But it is a wrenching, deeply angering and convincing story. If you can stomach detailed accounts of abuse and are on the fence as to whether Jackson is guilty or not, I’d say watch it. Otherwise I’d say pass, though not because of the quality of the production.

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