Under Her Eye review: The Rape of Recy Taylor

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Read the shortlisted Under Her Eye reviews then vote for your favourite.

As part of Stylist’s Under Her Eye initiative, we’re on the hunt for three new female film critics. We asked aspiring reviewers to send in a 450-word review of their favourite film – and after an overwhelming response, we’ve whittled it down to a shortlist of 20. 

Read one woman’s review of The Rape of Recy Taylor below and click here to see the other entries and vote for your favourite.

The Rape of Recy Taylor, written and directed by Nancy Buirski is like being kicked in the face by emotion and having menstrual cramps in your heart. This documentary is, first and foremost, a love letter to the black women who fought to overcome. 

On the evening of 3 September 1944, walking home from Church – with two friends for safety –in Alabama, twenty-four year old Recy was kidnapped at gunpoint and raped by six white men. She reports it to the police immediately, she even gives them three of her attackers’ names, but they never make any arrests. 

Instead, they cover up the crime, call her a prostitute and ‘advise’ her to keep her mouth shut. She does not. She talks about it until her home is targeted with petrol bombs and her porch goes up, but a little bit of fire doesn’t scare her - she moves elsewhere and keeps talking. Police intimidation certainly doesn’t stop her either. She talks until her story is known all over America, she talks so much she helps change the course of history.

Detailed through interviews from present day, reenactments, archive footage and home-movies, piece-by-piece, Buirski constructs for us the world in which Recy Taylor existed. It’s hard not to become immersed in that world, I couldn’t help but place myself her shoes and when I did, I wanted to slide them back off and crawl out of my skin, for good measure. It felt like a weight on my chest, writing this now I feel it return. That Taylor did not suffocate astounds me. You could argue that it sits so disconcertingly close to the bone because remnants of the culture still linger, we’re not truly past it yet. We shouldn’t forget that.

This documentary will make you feel with every part of yourself, so if you like ugly crying for unspecified periods of time, potentially in public, then I urge you to see this film. If you are female, I urge you to see it. I urge you to see it if you are male. If you have skin of any colour, I urge you to see it. I urge you to see it if you like watching true crime shows and factual content. If you love powerful stories about heroic women, I urge you to see it and if for some reason you don’t love powerful true stories about heroic women then I double urge you to see it.

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