Strange Love

2018, Society  -  3 min Leave a Comment
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Any followers of 90's tabloid fodder know the name of Mary Kay Letourneau. A 34-year old teacher outside of Seattle, Washington, Letourneau began an illicit affair with a 12-year old student name Vili Fualaau. After becoming impregnated by him, she was charged with two second degree counts of child rape. Strange Love catches up with these notorious figures more than twenty years later, and exposes a trauma and confusion that continues to resonate in their lives to this day.

Many viewers might be surprised to learn that Letourneau and Fualaau are now married with two beautiful daughters. In the early moments of the film, they are captured in scenarios not unlike any enjoyed by an all American family. But this family's baggage makes them entirely unique. This is a woman who was successfully seduced by a pre-teen, and he is now a grown man who feels conflicted over the events that shaped his young life, especially when he considers his hopes for his own children.

Through interviews with the central couple and the surrounding investigators and attorneys who worked their case, we gain a context for their criminal union, the bumpy journey that proceeded her release from prison, and the underlying complexities of the relationship they share today.

It's tempting to play armchair psychoanalyst as you watch the couple sitting side by side fielding difficult questions over their troubling beginnings. Their dynamic is fascinating; Letourneau strains a smile when confronted with concepts like regret or moral ineptitude while Fualaau comes across as genuinely reflective and clear-eyed about their unlawful transgressions. She seems determined to plead ignorance to her wrongdoing while he seems embroiled in an internal battle over what might have been lost from his childhood.

A series of tantalizing questions are raised along the way. Would the outcry and outcome been different if it were a male teacher seducing a female student? Can Faulaau truly allow himself to regret the relationship when it produced two healthy and centered children?

Perhaps most valuably, Strange Love shows the other side of infamy after the sensationalized, tabloid fire has long dimmed from public view.