When Anna Odell hears that her school’s 20 year reunion happened without her being invited, she decided to make a dramatise imagining of what would have happened – and what she would have said – if she had gone. Once her film is made, Odell sets about trying to track down the people who bullied her at school, to ask them to watch the film.
Odell has taken on an interesting prject with The Reunion, rather than sitting at home feeling upset and betrayed that she was not invited to be with the people she went to school with, she took her emotional power into her own hands, using a fictionalised version of the reunion as an outlet for her grievances. Perhaps Odell started her project as a form of catharsis, or maybe she always intended to show the result to the people who, she feels, persecuted her and bullied her during her school years.
The first half of the film – the fictionalised reunion – is filled with drama and shouting. As Odell shouts her pain, the actors shout her down, play with her and eventually resort to physical violence. It is a fascinating scene and, at times, incredibly hard to watch. The most interesting part is that most of the characters hide behind the justification ‘We were kids’, effectively denying Odell her experience.
In the second half of the film, Odell sets out to confront those who made her teenage years hell, to show them how their actions affected her, as well as giving them the right to reply. Many of her schoolmates are uncomfortable when Odell contacts them, offering excuses as to why they do not want to meet up with her. Of those that do see the film, one man apologises unreservedly for the pain he caused her, one denies he was as bad as she remembers him and others hide behind the line that Odell imagined they would; ‘We were kids’.
Odell has created a fascinating piece of work in The Reunion, allowing her to purge her feelings and confront those who had a painful impact on her life. At times it seems as though Odell’s actions are slightly petty – until we are reminded that this has had a strong and lasting emotional impact on her. This is an incredibly personal piece of work, which will surely resonate with anyone who has been through a school setting. The Reunion is a brave, uncomfortable and obviously cathartic film; although it seems that no true resolution is, or can be, reached.