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Rewind (A Movie Review)

Updated: May 11, 2020

REWIND (2019)

Featuring Sasha Joseph Neulinger, Jacqui Neulinger, Henry Nevison, Bekah Neulinger, Dr. Herbert Lustig, George Ohrin, Risa Vetri Ferman and archival footage of Sam Neulinger, Ellie Neulinger, Larry Nevison, Stewart Nevison and Howard Nevison.

Directed by Sasha Joseph Neulinger.

Distributed by FilmRise. 86 minutes. Not Rated.

Watching family home movies don’t always tell the whole story. Not by a long shot. They tend to expose the celebrations, the happiness, the joking, people performing for the camera.

But what happens when the camera isn’t rolling?

Rewind takes us behind the mask in one of those families. The Nevison-Neulingers seem to be a happy, solid family. Dad Henry works in the movie business, so he was an early camera enthusiast, taking hundreds of hours of footage of his clan. Young son Sasha grew up in front of the lens, and he happily clowns for his dad.

Then suddenly, as he gets a little older, he gets sullen. He gets angry. He acts out on camera. Is he becoming a moody kid, or is there something more going on? We learn soon enough that there is a reason for his massive change – he is being sexually abused by two uncles and a cousin.

Sasha Joseph Neulinger is a grown man now. He has become a victim’s advocate for abused children. And yet, well into adulthood he still felt the shame and self-loathing that came from his victimization. After watching some old home videos that he got from his dad, he decided to make a movie telling his story. He hoped it would help victims like him feel not so alone, and it would help him to come to terms with what happened to him.

Rewind works on three levels. It is a horrifying look at abuse and its physical and mental blowback. At the same time, it is a sweet and heartening look at people coming to terms and healing. Then again, it’s also punctuated by some fun and funny footage of family functions in the 1990s.

Neulinger is in a bit of an odd situation here, because not only is he the filmmaker, he is also the subject.

In certain ways, Rewind is similar to the terrific 2003 documentary Capturing the Friedmans, using home movies to show an apparently ideal family that has a deep, dark secret. Rewind is in some ways more affecting, though, because director Neulinger obviously does not have the slight sense of distance from the occurrences that Friedmans director Andrew Jarecki had.

This was Neulinger’s life. He was immersed in it.

And so, he went home to the Philadelphia area to investigate what happened and see it through an adult’s eyes. He revisited many of the people involved in his case when his abuse came to light – the psychiatrist who treated him, the detective who investigated the case, the assistant DA who brought charges on the predators.

He also spoke with his parents and sister – who was also being abused – and mended some fences and brought his family closer.

Rewind is about a very ugly subject, but it is an uplifting film. People can survive even horrible experiences. Evil does not always win. Love can overcome hate. These are lessons that are always welcome.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2020 All rights reserved. Posted: May 8, 2020.

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