Beyond Belief Beth Murphy

Ever since the events of September 11th happened, liberal-minded artistes and gun-toting right-wing nut-bars have been barking their belief systems up, down and around the controversial series of subsequent events while everyone else does their best to move on. It’s something that most have developed a personal framework for that doesn’t require additional ruminations and heavy-handed pandering, which is likely why most artistic commercial ventures surrounding the subject have failed. Beth Murphy’s documentary about Susan Retik and Patti Quigley deals with this issue at addendum, following them from their charity bicycle ride from New York to Boston, as a means to raise money for Afghan widows, to their visit in Afghanistan where they try to figure out how to disperse the funds. All of this is given gravity by the fact that both American women lost their husbands during the 9/11 attacks. An in-depth exploration as to why they chose this particular mode of coping might have been interesting but, while that notion is touched upon briefly, the documentary finds more comfort and safety in painting the women as strong, brave and noble souls who want to cure the plight of terrorism with heart. There is a great deal of crying, overlapping audio tracks and slow pans through once happy (but now empty) suburban homes. While Beth Murphy seems to understand that her subjects are fairly inarticulate and slightly deluded about their motivations, she understandably veers off the path of exploratory family interviews and asks difficult questions to reveal it. While giving a broader picture of the subjects at hand would have made for a more thought-provoking documentary, it would have been tacky and inappropriate given that the subjects are grieving widows who are doing something of value. The DVD includes an interview with Beth Murphy where she delivers prosaic responses to perfunctory questions. (Alive Mind)