Documentary: Rocking the Couch (2018) - Reviewed

If the #MeToo Movement did anything, it made it okay to talk about the seamy underside of Hollywood; the side that many outsiders have long suspected hummed along underneath all the glitz and glamour of fame and the Red Carpet, but that no one talked about, at least not in a public forum. Minh Collins' documentary, Rocking the Couch, picks up parts of the story that have yet to be widely told, those that show the audience that sexual harassment and assault by men in power are not novel, new ideas in Hollywood, but truly have been woven into the fabric of the industry since its inception. 

The onset of the film details the first documented case of sexual assault in Hollywood, the tragic story of Virginia Rappe, who was so brutally attacked that she died from her injuries days after her rape. The fact that this story has remained untold for so long (since the early '20s when the rape occurred), is quite shocking, and brings the audience to immediately question, if something this vile and reprehensible has remained swept under the rug for almost a hundred years, what other horrors are hidden there alongside it?

While the film contains many powerful interviews with those who have been assaulted, those who have witnessed their peers being blacklisted for trying to stop the abhorrent behavior, and even those who were lucky enough to escape harassment because of their heritage, there are also interviews with those who are concerned about the effect the telling of these stories will have on the good men in Hollywood. The film does a good job in these instances by staying far away from victim blaming, even when discussing the fact that there are women in Hollywood who willingly (happily?) participate in sex acts in exchange for  roles. Really, the films biggest drawback is the filmmakers use of reenactments. The reenactments aren't poorly done, but still, their use makes it seems as if the filmmaker doesn't trust the stories themselves to be enough, and they work almost to cheapen the message. 

The stories told within Rocking the Couch are important. They need to be told on a wide open platform such as this. They also make the viewer question what, if anything, has changed in Hollywood since the beginning, and highlight exactly how far we have left to go until there's no need for a #MeToo Movement anymore. The drawbacks of Collins' film do not outweigh its impact, and it should be required viewing, especially for young women planning to pursue a career in Hollywood. 

-Josie Stec