Where do I even start with this one?
I have spent years in front of the television and silver screen – I have the waistline to prove it – but I haven’t seen anything like this. Murdered by my boyfriend is a horrific yet essential film.
Essential because it tells a very important story. A story which, frankly, I have seen done very poorly many times on the screen, small and big. What makes Murdered by my boyfriend so unique, to me anyway, is the fact that it feels real. This wasn’t just any other run-of-the-mill, based on a true story thing – I feel like I have known victims like Ashley all of my life. I know people who have been physically abused and, for reasons unknown to me, have taken their partners back.
Horrific because, well, I can’t think of a single film or television series which has left me literally sick to my stomach and genuinely fearful for a character within just 20 minutes of watching. Within 20 minutes I was pausing and resuming this TV film, and wincing, and turning away from the telly, and debating whether I wanted to carry on watching it at all. By the 30 minute mark I was holding back the tears and stopped watching all together – I went to bed dreading of having nightmares. I did finish watching the rest of this film the next morning and the horror was still there but, like Ashley I guess, I was numb to it all and I was resigned to her fate.
Let me be clear, this isn’t something I would recommend for everyone to watch – I regret watching it myself. There is nothing enjoyable about it whatsoever. With that said, a lot of credit has to go to the two leads, Georgina Campbell who plays the victim Ashley and Royce Pierreson who plays the murderer Reece. The range these two actors show to convey how complicated and tragic this relationship was is just staggering. You basically just watch Ashley’s soul slowly dim throughout this film – from the beautiful bubbly and innocent girl she was at the start to the beaten down mess she became. Looking at it from a purely acting point of view, it is clear that Campbell should sweep whatever awards these types of things are entered into.
But the real revelation for me was Royce Pierreson who, in my opinion, had a harder job than his female partner. It could have been so much easier to play Reece as a straight up dick-head, but Pierreson employs a more subtler tactic. He is immensely charming, charismatic and convincing as the would be murderer that you almost get why Ashley fell for him. And even when the abuse starts and Royce reveals himself to be a monster, Pierreson still leaves enough human elements for him not to become a caricature. The result makes for a more powerful story and I think a lot of people, especially young girls out there, will relate to this story more because of his performance, not just Campbell’s.
This film had an immense impact on me because I don’t know what to do with this information. It is the first time a story like this has been put into a context which I can relate to and understand. I have lived in a house full of black woman I adore like Ashley for a good chunk of my life, and if my sisters and cousins and aunties went through something like this I wouldn’t have known and I wouldn’t have seen the signs. Shit, if my little girl, who looks eerily like Ashley and Reece’s daughter, got into a relationship like this when she gets older, how the hell can I spot the signs?
And even if I could spot the signs with my loved one, can you really stop ticking time bombs like Royce?
I really do think films like these are important because if it empowers one woman to get out of an abusive relationship then it is worth every penny of the television license I pay.