A shocking exposé of the inner workings of the $50 billion a year U.S. family law industry, Divorce Corp shines a bright light on the appalling waste and shameless collusive practices seen daily in family courts.
Gloria Allred, Wendy Archer, Alexandra Borg, Dennis Braun, Sue Brewington, Mark Byron, Ulf Carlsson, Haskins Elena, Hrefna Frioriksdottir, Emily Gallup, Sol Gothard, Steinunn Goubjartdottir, Art Grater
If you’re not happy with your spouse, just get a divorce. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Contrary to what movies and television might lead one to believe, divorce is considered by many within its mechanics as a nightmare both emotionally and fiscally for both parties. Even if the couple seem understanding enough to reach an agreeable compromise for splitting up, divorce is still a major drain on the wallet. It’s a corrupted system of a court that exists on a level that seems almost alien in comparison to the regular courts. Watching lives torn down from such a rotten system makes you want to do something. Namely, it makes one demand a better documentary on the subject.
It’s a topic that’s infuriating enough on its own, but director Joe Sorge feels the need to crank the melodrama dial up to 11. Low on B-roll, the film employs a multitude of dry animations with faceless characters to illustrate divorce court mechanics and the descending funds. Fearing an emotionless audience, Sorge punches up his picture with too much dramatic music and chilling melodies. Sob stories are predominantly placed within the talking heads to ensure that your blood has sufficiently boiled.
Look, I’m not made of stone. Divorce sounds like a horrible and painful experience - even more so when it involves children being plucked away by their fathers and mothers. But the more the movie banks on this material to generate a reaction, the more it becomes apparent how one-sided this documentary is. It has a clear agenda, but goes about reaching its goal carefully and calculative. Only the saddest of tales are presented. Only the corruptest of judges, lawyers and social service works are showcased. The system must be seen as deeply flawed at its core to gain the biggest response.
I’m not saying the divorce courts are unquestionably effective or even devoid of corruption. I believe they are and that most of the terrible stories told carry the ugly truth. But I kept waiting for that moment when we heard some competing voice that tries to defend. We do see a few key players for the divorce process that seem unapologetic in their unethical methods, but does the documentary really want to paint the picture of the corrupt appearing as cackling middle-aged men in fast cars, expensive sunglasses and rich houses? They couldn’t find a more insane mustache-twirler counting his money while laughing about broke spouses on camera?
Thankfully, the documentary spends more time absorbed in facts when not stitching together the perfectly-aligned interviews for a narrative. The numbers and practices of the divorce court operations do sound maddening and insane. The costs are staggering, the orders from the top are harsh and the whole system seems intentionally designed to completely destroy the life of either side (sometimes both). The amount of time, money and research required for such an action leads one to believe that divorce is just not worth it. And, of course, we quickly cut to a European country where divorce is easier than getting a driver’s license. I’m surprised Michael Moore didn’t hop on such a subject - his graphics and editing would have at least been more entertaining.
Divorce Corp presents its evidence for a flawed system as if it were the plaintiff against divorce courts. It makes its case, evokes the emotion of the jury and bombards us with all its statistics. This is all such a showy display it makes me wonder how flashy and manipulative the other side was with their arguments. I’m not sure if hearing that other side would paint a more complex picture of this issue or just cloud it further. I’d rather have the bigger picture than quickly bang the gavel for a guilty verdict. The statistics make me want to do so, but the circus of a presentation holds back my hand. Further study is needed.
You rated this film: 2
Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Classification is to be confirmed by the British Board of Film Classification