Of God and Gucci (Rennar, 2011)

Of God and Gucci

Part art therapy, part legal document (it contains footage of the mediation resulting from the director’s lawsuit against the Roman Catholic church), part political argument, Keith Rennar’s Of God and Gucci is the director’s attempt to explain and understand the effects that years of sexual abuse had on him.

The film has little in the way of production value; it is a series of video interviews edited to tell Rennar’s story. It is the story itself, with a focus on the long-term effects of abuse, the gives the film its power. Of God and Gucci understands the principle that audiences can only really enter into and begin to understand the scope of sweeping tragedies via specific, concrete examples.

One of the more sobering and sad concrete examples doesn’t even come from Rennar. His wife, Diane, mentions the vacuum created by not having organized worship in their lives. It is not all that strange these days–in some circles it is almost fashionable–to claim one embraces personal faith but eschews institutions of religion. Diane appears to genuinely want and miss the presence of communal worship in her life but also acknowledges the wall of mistrust created by being witness to abuses of power.

Another reason Rennar has given for making the film is to support a drive to change the statue of limitations in New Jersey in cases involving the sexual abuse of minors. The Child Sexual Abuse Act of 1992 gave victims of abuse two years to sue abusers once the effects of that abuse have been realized. Advocates for the reform of the legislation believe that the legislation as written can be misapplied and creates an additional hardship on those seeking to hold abusers accountable.

Of God and Gucci is painful to watch at times, but it is an important reminder that the damage done by abuse doesn’t always fade as quickly as our attention wanes.

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