Film Review | At the Beach (2015)

Film run-time: 5 minutes | Starring Claudia Desharnais, Cindy Loyer, Chantale Poitras
Written and Directed by Jeremy Peter Allen, Produced by Nathalie Cloutier, Colette Loumède and Catherine Benoit

At the Beach“, a 2015 short film by Jeremy Peter Allen, is a poignant look at transition and the adaptation of trauma, in the context of normalization within social settings. As a look at traditions that are more prone to expose vulnerability and lay bare a rehabilitating individual, this film documents the rejuvenating aspects of a beach outing for burn survivors, who face the personal challenges of exposure.

In the words of one featured survivor, regarding her burns: “It stays on our bodies for our whole lives.” There is a forceful bluntness in her words which echo a sentiment that the others share—these are our bodies, and we must confront the world with them in all their imperfection. The silence which often greets the sight of these burn survivors naturally match the silent intensity of their extensive scarring.

Irrespective of whether a person has any disfiguration, the beach is a daunting place to be for the self-conscious; one is obliged to conform to the popular choices of beachwear, which often skimps coverage to accentuate curves, or maximize areas prime for tanning. The barrier to complete enjoyment is considerably higher for these survivors, yet they still welcome the sun as an act against predicament.

Most inspirational as a defiance of circumstance and a celebration of acceptance, “At the Beach” allows for an insightful profile of these individuals who are, more often than not, stigmatized for an appearance that is beyond their control. As a reminder that beauty is more than skin-deep, and that life is about embracing change, the film succeeds in recognizing the intricacy of healing, and the value of a helping hand.

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