Christa Millard


This Note presents the first interdisciplinary scholarship analyzing the depiction of domestic violence in commercial feature film as a means of understanding the legal rights and remedies afforded survivors. I trace domestic violence law across various cultural movements and filmmaking stages, demonstrating that “reel-life” domestic violence reflects and informs the legal remedies afforded or withheld from “real-life” domestic violence survivors. Since the 2000s, independent films have depicted more accurate representations of domestic violence, promoting restorative justice policies that hold the most promise for survivors. Ultimately, these reflections call Hollywood to action. After all, film—unlike the American legal system—has transformative power, borne of its unique ability to transport viewers from physical reality, force audiences to question expectations, reshape attitudes, and envision a world different from—and undeniably better than—existing legal precedent affords.

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