I Was Lorena Bobbitt (2020 Lifetime)
Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Lorena Bobbitt became a household name and made tabloid headlines when after years of abuse by her husband, she cut off his penis with a knife in 1993. Nearly 30 years later, Lorena tells her story, and hers alone, for the first time with Lifetime. This film follows her journey from a wide-eyed immigrant bride to a battered wife into an unlikely media sensation. I Was Lorena Bobbitt also documents her ultimately emerging as a strong, thoughtful woman who has devoted her life to advocating for other abused women.
The movie begins with a disclaimer. John Bobbitt doesn’t condone this movie. A blonde, Lorena Gallo (formerly Bobbitt.), comes onto the screen to narrate the story about the time in her life when she was Lorena Bobbitt. You should also know this movie is very triggering for victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse.
Five years before the incident (1988), Lorena meets John at a bar. John is a marine, and Lorena was born in Ecuador and moved to the USA from Venezuela. Lorena works as a nanny for a woman with the most 80’s hairstyle I’ve ever seen. John turns on the charm with Lorena and her family. (except for her sister or maybe cousin Mercedes.) They get married when Lorena is 19 (he was four years older) and takes a job as a nail tech.
John starts asserting his control over Lorena by having his cousin stay with them in a small apartment. John and his cousin drink and party hard. When Lorena tells him that he is too drunk to drive, he drives anyway and almost crashes head-on into oncoming traffic. Lorena grabs the wheel but is knocked around by John. The fighting hets so bad the police arrive and remove Lorena from home for safety.
The real Lorena comes on screen to tell us that she thought the abuse would stop, but it didn’t.
1993- after the incident. Lorena cries to the police, who are more concerned with finding John’s penis. They interrogate Lorena for 14 hours while she is in distress and start poking holes in her story. She as not offered an attorney or interpreter. Lorena didn’t know the words for rape, and in attempting to explain what was happening to the police, she incriminated herself. The press gets a hold of the story, and Lorena’s domestic abuse/rape becomes the punchline in America. (Can you even imagine?!?) Lorena cries: “He beat me; he raped me. Why does everyone think that’s so funny?”
Flashing back to 1988, John gets jealous when he sees two guys looking at Lorena and her friend. Lorena says that John planted the seed that everything was her fault. He forces everyone to leave their vacation early and berates Lorena in the car in front of her friend and his cousin. Then at Christmas, he threatens to report her to ICE and say that their marriage was just for a green card. (Lorena immigrated to this country legally.)
When Lorena gets pregnant, he forces her to get an abortion by threatening to leave her. When he takes her to the clinic, he says disturbing things to Lorena about how painful and terrible it is going to be. Like, WTF.
Flash to Thanksgiving, 1990. John is watching a football game, and Lorena changes the channel to the Macy’s day parade while he is in the bathroom. John comeback and is pissed off; he storms off. Lorena’s mom tells her daughter to try to be better about keeping the peace. John escalates things by cutting off the cable and then dragging Lorena with his car as her mother watches on in horror. When Lorena admits to her mother that the relationship is abusive, Lorena’s mom tells her that it is a family matter and not to involve the police. She calls the cops anyways, as many as six times, but it only makes John more violent.
1992, John convinces Lorena to take him back and agrees to work on the marriage. When Lorena sees that he was lying, she asks him for a divorce, which set him off to become violent again. John tells Lorena he is hers whenever he wants. The abuse continues, and Lorena goes to the authorities who aren’t helpful. They insensitively make her retell the story of her abuse repeatedly to receive an order of protection.
Back in 1993, the media circus hounds Lorena. John is found not guilty of marital assault, and evidence of previous abuse is inadmissible. Lorena still faces charges of malicious wounding. Her lawyers advise her to plead insanity and to take the stand. The lawyers also recommend Lorena to take a plea deal of four months in prison, when his ass got off scot-free.
Lorena’s trial drags on 12 days, and her hearing was televised across the country, exposing traumatic and private experiences for the world to judge. Court scenes happen, and as Lorena recalls the night of the attack, the movie flashes to her recollection of the events.
John comes into her bed late at night after night of drinking and rapes her and passes out. Before he falls asleep, he tells her he does it because he can. Lorena goes to the kitchen and gets a glass of water. She grabs a knife and has flashes of all the times John abused her. We don’t see any vulgar shots of a penis being cut off. It is more about depicting the mental state of a woman stuck in an abusive cycle.
Lorena gets found not guilty. The voice-over narration of Lorena Gallo promises to stand up for all abused women. She currently lives in Virginia with her family and now runs the organization, Lorena Gallo Foundation .
Minority Report: Lorena, Elvira, Lorena’s sister/cousin, police officer,
I was happy to see that Lorena was listed as a producer and narrator for the film. I’m glad she was able to tell her own story, finally, after so many years. You can read more about her story from her point of view here.
The director, Danishka Esterhazy’s ability to weave the timeline of the story, and Lorena’s narration together seamlessly was impressive.
NEED HELP? Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area or visit RAINN’s Website.
❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ (5 Hearts)
🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required.)
*Photo Credit: © 2020 Lifetime