Published May 07, 2012Directed in part by the adoptive mother of the titular Faith, this troubling look at children who suffer from "Attachment Disorder," a condition where a damaged child is unable to trust others or connect on an emotional level, is as much a parental documentation of the trials and tribulations of helping a scarred child as it is an indirect exploration of the cult methods used to cure it.
Noting the degree of difficulty in raising a truculent child prone to violent outbursts and compulsive lying, My Name is Faith quickly jumps into a rehab camp facility of sorts, where a specialist on the subject forces the children into scenarios where they're held accountable for their actions and words.
We learn that Faith was born into a meth lab lifestyle with a drugged-out, neglectful mother and likely molestation at the hands of a known pedophile. Observed by neighbours carrying around her infant brother begging strangers for food, she was eventually taken away and placed with a foster family. But what this often-discomforting documentary points out is that physical rescue is only the first step in helping a child removed from the safety and reassurance of parental bonding.
The tactics used to help these children – some admit to molesting and killing their pets or trying to drown their infant siblings– are progressive in the sense that they acknowledge the acute intelligence and awareness of the youngster. These kids use their cuteness and assumed naivety to exploit the feelings and behaviours of the adults around them, knowing how to say what people want to hear to get what they want.
In a telling moment at the midway point of the film, Faith gives an interview to the camera crew about an assignment she was given at camp, obviously lying about her interaction with the psychiatrist to gain allies and empathy. Halfway through, she shuts down and "forgets" what she was trying to say when said psychiatrist comes within hearing distance. When confronted with lying about the situation, Faith breaks into tears, admits what she was trying to do and is told that it's important not to tell people what they want to hear, something that will surely be undone in university when she learns that regurgitating crap is the only way to succeed. We see both the effectiveness of the treatment as well as the creepy cult implications of this healing camp.
Undoubtedly, these moments and the degree of thought that went into communicating how and why these kids became the way they are compel for the duration of what proves to be a rather distressing but important documentary. It's just unfortunate that the actual construction of the film is quite amateurish, jumping between moments in time without any framing or context and occasionally going on tangents that don't help the overall narrative.
Had more structure been put in place, this challenging but intelligent film could have gone from good to great. (Undercurrent)