It Was a Wonderful Life
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I found the six women who were portrayed in this film to be a lot more resourceful and optimistic than I feel my potential to be.
The film was shot in the early 1990s, so watching it a decade later is a bit strange, since I wonder how much LA has changed in the interim. I suspect that the huge amount of illegal immigration into that area makes it even more difficult to find cheap housing than was the case 10 years ago.
In the late 80s and early 90s there was also a lot more sympathy for homeless people than there appears to be now, and there are probably less municipal/state/federal resources available now than there were back then. Now that the states are all running large deficits in their budgets, and the cost of housing has skyrocketed, it's probably a dreary prospect to be tossed out of the "safe" world.
Jodie Foster's narration was a bit underwhelming, but then that may have been appropriate, since the focus should remain on the subjects of the documentary.
This film shared the same problem with the whole concept behind most documentaries, namely: why do the documentarians not provide assistance to their subjects? Or do they have an obligation simply to portray what they observe without interfering?
I'm thankful for films like these. The trick, then, is for me, for us, to turn it into to some form of support.
We meet several women who actually lead quite a comfortable life--or at least a solidly middle class existence before they ran out of money because of a medical illness that apparently was not covered by insurance (or perhaps they lacked health insurance, they film doesn't go into this), bad investments or deadbeat dads/ex-husbands who simply refused to make their child support payments. These women are remarkably talented artists, teachers, realtors and more and they are every bit as well educated as the filmmakers say that they are; one of them is quite a chanteuse and it pained me greatly to see how she ended up homeless with her hopes and chances for subsidized "Section 8" housing dwindled, leaving her in a state of despair and deep depression.
We also learn how these women rarely seek out financial support such as food stamps and public assistance--I assume this is out of pride and a strong determination to make their own way. When interviewed, these women didn't think that they were desperate enough to apply for welfare.Read more ›
It's a shame that our legal system can barely do anything to help these women to get back on their feet. Yet, they can respond quickly to high-profile cases that are sometimes too outrageous or frivilous. These were women who had good, if not great lives. They were married with children. Some of them were working to make ends meets and not having to worry about tomorrow. Then something happened.
Marital discord, medical injury, loss of employment turned their world upside down. I felt sorry for these women because they were struggling to stay afloat when things took a turn for the worse. Some of them wouldn't turn to their families or friends for assistance; and one didn't have anyone to turn to for assistance.
The thought of what these women are going through is a reflection of what can happen to me and several other women. As much as I whined and complained about not having a place of my own and having to struggle financially, there is always a ray of sunshine.
The only thing we as women need to do is to acknowledge our presence and look out for our well-being. And help each other.
I wonder if there was ever any thought to follow-up on this documentary. One committed suicide and the other was never heard from again. It would be interesting to know what they have been doing since this documentary was made.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sad reality of life today, This is a excellent documentary on homeless women but it applies to men as well. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Jerry G
These women seems so nice and normal, but they are all living a very sad life. It's very depressing seeing them living like that. Read morePublished on February 10, 2014 by Ida
Some homeless women obviously suffer from mental illness but the two I felt the most sympathy toward had multiple kids with zero support. Read morePublished on January 29, 2013 by mr. contrarian
After publishing my book "Shadow Women: Homeless Women's Survival Stories" (Sheed & Ward, 1990), I had many offers from producers, directors, and stars for a movie contract. Read morePublished on April 18, 2012 by Brooke
It was Jodie Foster's name (as narrator) that drew me to watch this. But it was the homeless women profiled who made this film unforgettable. Read morePublished on March 2, 2012 by Big Reader
A Good doc....add to your JF collection. Music was a disappiontment, as it was merely instumental background.Published on August 23, 2010 by marisue
Though relevant and very heartbreaking, i'd like you keep in mind that these women are flawed in some crucial way. Read morePublished on January 22, 2010 by Miss Priss
A documentary about homeless women in america. It could have been done in half the time but still it highlights the plight of the homeless that a lot of us tend to ignore. Read morePublished on October 9, 2008 by Paul Hogan