Kind Hearted Woman
PBS’s series "Frontline" recently brought filmmaker David Sutherland’s five hour documentary "Kind Hearted Woman" to the small screen. The film is a moving look at 32-year old Robin Charboneau, a divorced single mother and member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, who survives not only sexual abuse at a young age, but also then faces alcoholism, depression, custody battles, endless job difficulties and a myriad of money problems. Eventually, she will become a strong and powerful advocate for sexual abuse education, but her journey there is long and difficult. What’s fascinating about this film - if that weren’t enough - is the attention to detail Sutherland gives us. After just a few hours we feel we intimately know Robin and her two kids Darian and Anthony. And as their story progresses, we will delve deeper into their lives and their problems; most noticeably when Darian reveals that her father has been sexually abusing her. This brings about a heart-wrenching court case and really illuminates how confusing these situations can be for children. It also spotlights just how troubled our judicial system is.
Robin’s is a story that is overwhelming and unfair. Sadly, situations like hers are all too common. How Robin reacts to everything that happens to her is what makes "Kind Hearted Woman" so special. While not every choice she makes is the perfect one, the way she speaks to her children with respect and patience and how she uses these times to educate them is truly extraordinary. For a woman who said she never learned how to be a mother or a wife (because her own mother was an alcoholic who died at the age of 30), she certainly grew to be an amazing mother to her two kids.
Sutherland follows Robin and her family for about two years, and in that time we get such a detailed portrait of her life, she ends up feeling like family. Truth be told, this reviewer was only given "Part One" of the series to watch for review. After I was done, I quickly found the remainder of the series online because I desperately wanted to know what happened to this amazing woman.
Life isn’t always fair, and for Robin Charboneau it seems the hands she’s been dealt make this true one-hundred fold. But, for many of us, when we complain about this small inconveniences or any myriad of insignificant problems, you need look no further than Robin. Her strength and perseverance are a powerful reminder that we can overcome anything, achieve anything, and use our pasts to paint brighter futures for others around us.
"Kind Hearted Woman"