Alison is the powerful true story of a South African woman, who reclaimed her life after being raped, disemboweled, nearly decapitated and left for dead. Directed by Uga Carlini, this part documentary, part docudrama and has been treated like a fairy tale, getting the inside story from various interviewees, who helped Alison along her journey. Sitting on a throne and set against sketches of the moments they witnessed, each are ascribed a fantasy title like Knight, Sage or Bard for their heroic efforts.
These insights are interwoven into a gritty docudrama as the film gets straight into the incident as Alison describes her thoughts and feelings in the build-up and aftermath of the brutal and senseless attack. These inserts star Christia Visser as a young Alison in a well-cast, equally honest and generous performance. Her experience playing the abused title character, Tess, makes the two films interlinked and must have made it easier for her to slip into the appropriate mindset. While there's no dialogue and the sexual violence isn't as graphic as it could have been, these scenes are intense and grisly. Zak Hendrikz takes on a difficult role as the perpertrator, Frans du Toit, whose evil seems limitless and without conscience.
Delving back to the incident through this dramatisation with the survivor narrating her own tale, this amazing true story is peeled away layer by layer as we investigate the medical, police and judiciary procedure following her brutal attack. From the man who stopped to help, the anaesthetist who facilitated her care, the on duty police officer, her legal representative, writing partner, a work colleague friend and the judge who presided over her case, we get a well-rounded picture of the highly publicised crime and the process of healing and restoration.
While the fairy tale and butterfly theme connect the dots and soften the harsh reality, the film functions like a comprehensive scrapbook filled with sketches, footage, photos, reports and newspaper clippings. The creative and eclectic frame for the story makes it more sentimental, intimate and gives it a homemade feeling as if Alison was bestowing her story as a gift to us. Her role as curator of the docudrama gives us a first-hand account of her journey through deeply honest and vulnerable storytelling as she shares her painful yet miraculous path.
Alison's inconsistent, yet the miraculous true story, artful design, intimate storytelling and emotional currency make this inspirational docudrama worth seeing. There are moments where Alison seems to be leaning towards self-promotion in echoing her motivational talks and bestselling book, 'I Have Life'. However, her "choose life" philosophy and heartfelt sincerity in helping others by sharing her tragedy and victory smooths things over, made all the more timely based on the judicial system's mishandling of the case. While it has a deckled edge, it's from the heart and makes a moving, honest, inspiring, self-empowering and detailed account of her story up until now.
The bottom line: Heartfelt