Movie Review: ‘Rocking the Couch’ is a Dark, Disturbing Look at Sexism and Exploitation

Movie Review: ‘Rocking the Couch’ is a Dark, Disturbing Look at Sexism and Exploitation

February 28, 2019 0 By Jeff Fountain

Even with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement shining a light on sexual harassment and outright assault in the film industry, ‘Rocking the Couch’ is still a disturbing eye-opener of a film. In fact, for all the high profile entertainers and powerful individuals in the headlines over the last year or so this film will still surprise viewers with the ugly truth of just how long this kind of behavior has been going on.

There is a case from 1992, against talent agent Wallace Kaye, that is tackled in the film and it a great example of what has been going on for a long time. Twelve brave women took this man to court and there the horrid details of what he had been up to were revealed. What is even more alarming was how the union basically fluffed the reports off, telling the women they were risking their careers if they came forward with these accusations. You would think things would have changed after this but here we in 2019 and it’s obvious nothing really did.

The movie begins with flashy headlines and images of what has gone on the last couple of years, with people such as Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, but quickly moves into what has gone on in the past. Actresses, recounting haunting experiences from different points in their careers, recall what happened to them in some very emotionally charged moments. The incidents themselves were bad enough, scarring most of these women for life, but the lack of interest and support for them was mindboggling.

It is interesting to note that while the problem of exploitation is mostly dominated by males in these stories, Rocking the Couch does take time to address the role women played in terms of the code of silence. The movie also addresses the ugly fact that some women willingly accepted the sexism and exploitation as part of getting ahead in the business. This does not excuse what happened to these women but kudos for the film for having the guts to look at the issue from every conceivable angle.

There is no doubt, however, where the film lays a lot of the blame and that is on the unions. While these mental and physical assaults were happening the actresses had almost no support from the union, who seemed intent on turning a blind eye instead of standing up for its members and getting their collective hands dirty. It makes one wonder what would have many years ago if someone in the union had the guts to take a stand and shine a light on the huge problem that was plaguing the industry.

I would have liked more from the male’s perspective in the industry as it is only touched upon here and while it gave food for thought it would have benefited from some more conversation. I don’t mean in a way to excuse what happened but to show more examples of what happened to them, or situations from their point of view. It could have been a fascinating counter-point to what this movie was about and allowed people to pose even more questions.

In the end, writer/director Minh Collins does a great job in showing many examples of what has gone on for years in Hollywood and how it was pretty much ignored by everyone. These women suffered through things that no woman should and here’s hoping their stories will help shine an even brighter light on a problem that still exists today.

Four stars out of five