A Better Man seems to have a concise albeit well-filmed production. It’s structured around a few confrontational chats and therapy sessions, along with a brief tour of pivotal locations mattering to filmmaker Attiya Khan and ex-lover Steve. The truth is A Better Man has been 20-plus-years in the making.
Attiya’s relationship to Steve was toxic. She endured relentless abuse, resulting in noticeable bruises and spirit-stripping head games. Now a feminist and an advisor to those who have suffered through similar abuse, Attiya bravely reunites with Steve to openly talk about their past. She seeks closure, but this exercise (and the overall point to the documentary) is to raise awareness around domestic abuse and the journey to regain one’s inner courage.
While A Better Man deals with sensitive and disturbing subject matter, directors Khan and Lawrence Jackman are reputable when moderating the discussion. Khan’s professional interviewing offers her honest opinions and heartbreaking catharsis while Steve’s rattled emotions shows viewers an observational representation of an oppressor staggering through his own guilt and fuzzy “optional” recollection.
I’m sure there are more layers to Attiya and Steve’s past. A mentioning of how the abuse sometimes referred to Khan’s Pakistani background is unusually brief, and Steve’s current life isn’t even acknowledged. However, A Better Man is an unforgettable doc and a courageous way to produce very important discussions.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie