• FTC

NCR: Not Criminally Responsible

Updated: 3 days ago

(available free on the National Film Board of Canada website: https://www.nfb.ca/film/ncr_not_criminally_responsible/)

FTC Rating: 4 out of 5


A woman is stabbed multiple times by a stranger outside a Walmart in Cornwall, Ontario. Julie Bouvier’s attacker, Sean Clifton is arrested without incident and found to be not criminally responsible for the act due to his untreated schizophrenia and severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. Twelve years later, Julie and her family are terrified to learn that Sean has been conditionally released after treatment. Filmmaker John Kastner explores this complex situation through interviews with the victim, her attacker, and various mental health professionals, placing a human face on the question “when is a person found NCR considered safe enough to rejoin society?”.


Strengths:

- Features interviews with all major stakeholders

- Incredible access to the Brockville mental health facility, treatments, and staff

- Insight into the Ontario board of review process and the implications of an absolute discharge

- The relationship/differences between Sean and his roommate, Will adds to the complexity of the film


Weaknesses:

-The documentary could benefit from an in-depth legal explanation as to when a person cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions and how exactly that determination was made in this case.

-The fighting scene with Sean’s roommate and the filmmaker seems strange, bordering on inappropriate


Final Thoughts:

- It saddens me to think about all the pain and trauma Julie suffered and how it could have been avoided if Sean received the help he so desperately needed.

- Despite the terrible pain and harsh recovery, the victim did continue to enjoy a full life. Therefore, I wonder if Julie’s parents would be as open to forgiveness if their daughter died from her injuries.

- For those curious about the aftermath of this film on its subjects: https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/11/12/the-stabber-the-victim-the-lost-son-and-the-wedding.html

Picture source: NFB website


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