"Newtown" is a masterfully subtle indictment of gun violence [REVIEW]


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Just like every year at Sundance, the documentaries stuck out just as much -if not more- than the fiction films this year. "Newtown" is the Sandy Hook documentary that will tear your heart out: simple, haunting and unforgettable. Kim A. Snyder’s searing film is more about the trauma imposed on the small town than the actual graphic detail, as they try to move forward and find a newfound purpose to life. 

Following the families and community members that were most affected with the massacre which had 20 children ages 6-7 years old and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut shot and killed by 20 year-old Adam Lanza. Lanza had murdered his own mother before driving to Sandy Hook and opening fire with an XM-15 military style M4 carbine rifle. The event in Newtown is simply referred to as 12/14/12.

Snyder's narrative has testimonies and interviews mixed in with scenes of Newtown, a beautiful, picturesque small town with layers of turbulent darkness. We get a Sandy Hook School Nurse, Sally Cox, describing her traumatic experiences inside the school as the drama occurred. The same can't be said of a Connecticut State Trooper that refuses to describe on-camera what he saw inside the school that day. We can only imagine, in fact we don't want to even picture it.

A father who lost his son, Daniel, wonders what the final moments must have been like for his toddler that fateful day. Snyder continues to show us account after account, witness after witness, without going into graphic detail. The detail is hidden in the grieving words. Even though none of Snyder's interviewees go into graphic detail as to what they saw that fateful day, we are still shocked by just imagining how it must have been like inside Sandy Hook that day.


Dr. William Begg, Emergency Room Services Director, has a memorably grieving interview where he recounts the horror in watching the little bodies come into the emergency room and accounts for the limited chance at survival that a child has when confronted with the weaponry Landa used on his victims. 

Snyder's deeper message with all this is felt: There is no way to prevent this from happening again in the country, as long as gun laws are as flexible as they are and as corrupt as they are. That message isn't relayed through overtly expressive words or pointing the finger at anybody, but just through the grieving facial features of this small town's residents who will never be able to shake their grief. "Newtown" is a documentary that can change lives. [A]
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