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The Jaundiced Eye (1999)

Unrated  |   |  Documentary  |  3 March 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 147 users   Metascore: 75/100
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At the prompting of his ex-wife and her new live-in boyfriend, a gay man is accused by his five-year-old son of child molestation. The gay man's parents are also indicted. Small-town ... See full summary »


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At the prompting of his ex-wife and her new live-in boyfriend, a gay man is accused by his five-year-old son of child molestation. The gay man's parents are also indicted. Small-town prejudices are further fueled by the father's admitted homosexuality and the common but erroneous stereotype that all gay men are child molesters. This documentary follows the journey of that family, reliving the horror of the first accusations through an initial guilty verdict, time in prison, the overturning of the first convictions and the eventual dropping of a subsequent case due to lack of evidence. Written by <>

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"Jaundiced Eye" never blinks
5 March 2003 | by (San Fransico US) – See all my reviews

I have always felt that the production company of Amy Sommer (Academy Award nominee for Waco; The Rules of Engagement) would be better and more accurately represented if it was called Eternal Vigilance Productions. Because every time I see one of her works I am reminded that that is the price of all freedom, both personal and civil. She, once again, and director Nonny de la Pena, along with the rest of their crew, have raised the form of documentary film from Shark Week on the discovery channel, back to the unblinking eye that should always be searching out the truth, however unpleasant, so that justice and not popular opinion can be seen. `The Jaundiced Eye' is another sterling example of that tradition.

This amazingly shown story of two me, wrongfully imprisoned for child molestation, shows us not only the devastating effect of homophobia on our justice system but also the bias that we as a country still feel toward those of an alternative life style.

Stephen Mathews, a gay man from Michigan, and Melvin Mathews, his straight father, were both sentenced to 35 years in prison when Stephen's ex-wife and, then, live-in boyfriend convinced Stephen's son to claim that he had been molested and tortured by the two men. They were convicted with no physical evidence, represented by an attorney who really didn't seem all that interested in performing his duties and forgotten by the community.

This film follows their later appeal and subsequent reintroduction to a society that, despite their proven innocence, still seemed uninterested or incapable of accepting them back into it.

It is the stark reality of a world that is unforgiving and a system that is more concerned with dispensing punitive sentences rather that looking for the truth that made this film both difficult to watch and at the same time impossible to ignore. It has been a very long time since I was moved to tears by a film, but I suppose that because of its amazing true story and incredible narrative style this one was bound to do it.

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