________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 5 . . . . October 30, 1998

cover Love Taps.

Annie O'Donoghue (Director), Jennifer Torrance (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
21 min. 15 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number 9196 088.

Subject Headings:
Abused teenagers-Fiction.
Dating violence-Fiction.
Interpersonal relations-Fiction.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

As Love Taps dramatically shows, physically and emotionally abusive relationships are not reserved for marriage but can be found amongst dating adolescents. The brief video follows two couples, with the major action involving Mark and Therese. As viewers learn, the pair have just become a couple again after having been separated for a period of time, the break having been the result of Terese's initiative. Mark is very controlling of Terese, and, when she does not do want he wants, he angrily responds with escalating violence towards her. Following each incident, Mark apologizes profusely, but his abusive behaviours do not cease, and Terese finally takes the step of breaking up with him permanently. In the second, and definitely minor, scenario, it is Ben who is on the receiving end of his girlfriend's nonstop putdowns. Eventually, Ben confronts Kelly about her verbal abuse, which she calls "joking," and she agrees to stop.

      The scenarios will give teens lots to talk about, beginning with, "Do you think Mark and Kelly will ever change their behaviours?" Should discussion not be naturally forthcoming, the cassette jacket provides a large number of "Discussion Questions" as well as a half dozen suggested post-viewing "Activities." In addition, the jacket provides a list of questions to help individuals decide if they are in abusive or healthy relationships.

      The adolescent actors, a multi-racial mix, and their dialogue, plus the settings, are quite credible, and teen audiences should be engaged by the two scenarios presented. The video avoids a simple right/wrong approach by, for example, muddying the physical abuse issue by having Mark be the product of a dysfunctional family. The video also subtly introduces elements of peer pressure and its effect on teens' decisions. Adults are completely absent.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.

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