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Documentary 'Audrie & Daisy' is a harrowing look at sexual assault

Documentary 'Audrie & Daisy' is a harrowing look at sexual assault
Daisy Coleman in the documentary "Audrie & Daisy." (Netflix)

There's plenty to make one seethe in Bonni Cohen's and Jon Shenk's harrowing documentary, "Audrie & Daisy," about the mistreatment a pair of underage girls endured both during and after each was sexually assaulted.

“U have no idea what its [sic] like to be a girl,” Saratoga, Calif., high school sophomore Audrie Pott texted a male classmate the day after he and others violated her when she was unconscious at an alcohol-fueled party. After pictures the boys took of her that night were posted online, Audrie — believing her life was over — killed herself.

Across the country in Maryville, Mo., that same year, 14-year-old Daisy Coleman was left nearly comatose on her front lawn after a hotshot senior named Matt Barnett and his buddies, she alleged, sexually assaulted her when she was drunk and unconscious.

The movie is  a sobering look at the minefield teenage girls traverse when it comes to drinking, pressure from porn-addled boys and social media popularity. And it's not as if the legal system, not to mention communities geared toward protecting star athletes and demonizing girls, are any better at handling the associated crimes.

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Though the pushback Daisy received was plenty ugly — the painful impact is made clear as we watch the resilient, articulate Daisy turn goth before our eyes — and the ill-considered defensiveness of an interviewed sheriff grates, the movie offers hope in the form of a survivors' network started by another maligned victim who attempted suicide.

The future of boys is a different story. One of Audrie's assailants, compelled by legal settlement to be interviewed by the filmmakers (who shield his identity with animation), is asked what he's learned about girls. "There's a lot of gossip between girls," he mumbles between "uh"s. "Guys are more laid back and don't really care." Heads will shake.

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'Audrie & Daisy'

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Not rated

Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood

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