Sundance Film Review: Happy Valley

Posted January 21, 2014 in
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Photo: Pat Little

Happy Valley
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Amir Bar-Lev

If you haven’t heard about the sexual abuse scandal erupting from the Penn State University football program, then that rock you live under must be mighty hefty. Director Amir Bar-Lev embedded himself within a town that was once revered as a wholesome community until tragedy stuck due to the multiple sexual molestation charges brought up against the Penn State University’s Assistant Coach, Jerry Sandusky. Bar-Lev lightly touches on Sandusky’s case and verdict, but the primary focus is set upon the head coach, Joe Paterno. Records indicate Paterno was made aware of an incident with Sandusky and a minor and emailed his superiors, but nothing ever came of his report. Much time passes before the allegations were made public. So, the question is, did Joe Paterno do enough? However, with the death of Paterno shortly after, we will never hear his full recollection of his memory. With interviews, vintage footage and testimonies, Bar-Lev reveals how these two men were the most powerful individuals in this seemingly peaceful neighborhood. For anyone who kept up with the story on the news, even on a medium level, there is not much more too offer in the film. The most shocking aspect comes from the candid interviews with Matt Sandusky, Jerry’s adopted son, and his horrific accounts by someone he looked up to as a father. It’s saddening, maddening and leaves you with a punch in the stomach. Sure, the predator is behind bars for the rest of his life, but how long will it take a once smiling community to regain their composure?

– Jimmy Martin

Screening Times: 
Saturday, Jan. 25 — 6:15 p.m. • Temple Theatre, Park City
Sunday, Jan. 26 — 6:30 p.m. • Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City