Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Girl by Samantha Geimer

4 Stars

Since 1977 people have speculated about what <i>really</i> happened to “The Girl” Roman Polanski took to Jack Nicholson’s house.  Was she a willing participant?  Did her mother hand to over in order to advance her own/her husband’s/her daughter’s career?  Was Polanski a predator who focused on young girls?  Thirty-five years after that fateful trip up Mulholland Drive, Samantha Geimer (“The Girl”) finally tells the story in her own words.

That voyeuristic part that resides inside me has always been fascinated by this story.  I mean, a man who has spent my entire life in exile has to be guilty, right?  On the other hand, a girl who has never spoken out about her experience might have been a pawn in the situation and set up to be Polanski’s “Lolita”.  Geimer does an excellent job breaking her silence.  In her own words:  “We’ve all done something in our lives we regret, something that is stupid; or something awful and stupid is done to us.  For 90 percent of these situations, there comes a time when you need to let it go – unless you don’t want to.  And then, in a sense, it’s your problem.”  With the years so far removed, the happiness she has found in her adult life and the punishment Polanski has endured from the court of public opinion, Geimer has been left with the ability to tell her story in a very matter-of-fact way.  And what a story it is – still completely horrifying/fascinating.  I couldn’t put it down. 

And what a remarkable woman Geimer has become.  Although very much an innocent party to this entire ordeal (say what you want about the mother/others involved, at 13 Geimer was a CHILD and Polanski a 43 year old man who should have known better), she never plays a “woe is me” card in this novel.  She sticks to the facts, maintaining her belief that Polanski’s punishment at the time of the rape was sufficient, is candid about the rough road she took through her remaining childhood, and finally tells of how she was able to heal and move on.  As she says “The word victim comes from the Latin word meaning the person or animal sacrificed for some religious purpose.  Over time it’s developed to mean a person who suffers from an accident or incident that leaves them injured and compromised in some way.  I imagine it must be terrible to be a victim.”

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