EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED TO TELL MY DAUGHTER ABOUT MEN (Austin Film Fest 2021) – Review by Diane Carson

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Cleverly organized and powerfully presented, Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men uses a sequence of eight therapy sessions to unravel and reveal multiple loves reflecting the complex emotional problems of the central character, called The Woman. I’ll call her Lorien for the film’s writer and actress playing her, Lorien Haynes. Interweaving flashbacks to the succession of demanding, destructive men in her past, Lorien’s searing honesty yields to several explicit lessons and session descriptions, both listed in text on screen.

Multiple directors, twenty by my count, guide this fascinating tour of forty-two year old Lorien’s sexual and romantic experiences. Throughout the roller coaster of her relationships, Lorien makes a sequence of needy choices. Through her therapist (a man never shown but heard), she works receptively and constructively to understand, as one session is labeled, what I was trying to avoid. Her “self-sabotage” will eventually transform into “self-love,” because Lorien commits to doing the exacting analysis needed to gain insight, acceptance, and progress.

Viewers will certainly relate to many of the lessons, among them: “don’t mistake intensity for intimacy” and “when a man asks you to babysit, be sure he doesn’t mean him.” Yes, there’s some humor here as well, since learning to laugh at ourselves is an equally important step. All the interaction moves at a pleasant pace, none of the affairs drawn out after the point becomes clear. In addition, the variety of personalities and places makes the journey we take with Lorien an enjoyable one that yields rewards for viewers, that is, we will certainly find some of our psychology reflected in at least some of the affairs. For myopia and defensiveness regarding our own behavior may transform into clear-eyed vision from a safe distance as we observe the actions of others.

The incredibly demanding performance as Lorien works through her diverse experiences is handled masterfully by one of the directors and primary writer Lorien Haynes. She has the courage to reveal so many truths of female – male dependencies and vulnerabilities and of the subconscious baggage we all carry from events that occurred in our youth. Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men may provide one of the audience’s best therapy sessions through this entertaining, deep character study.

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Diane Carson

Diane Carson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, has reviewed films for over 25 years and has covered the Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Palm Springs, and Sundance festivals. She writes for KDHX, 88.1 FM. St. Louis’ community radio. One of the founders of the St. Louis International Film Festival, she continues to serve on juries. A past president of the University Film and Video Association, she taught film studies and production at St. Louis Community College and at Webster University. Her new book, written with two colleagues, is “Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation,” Wayne State U. Press, 2014.