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The Education of Shelby Knox (2005)

  Directed by: Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt
Starring: Danny Knox, Paula Knox, Shelby Knox
Links: The Education of Shelby Knox on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Documentary

This movie gets: 7.00 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 104th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"Ed ain's worth nuttin'" - a review by pearly

Lubbock Texas. You can imagine the kind of place it is. The kind of place where people don't feel in the least bit strange saying "well, I'm sure that someone out there votes Democrat, it's just that I don't know who they are, and I don't believe I've ever met any of them". People like Danny Knox and Paula Knox, who are the parents of Shelby Knox. They're bringing Shelby up as a good Baptist, including taking her along at 15 to True Love Waits, a program in which she promises them that she will not have sexual relations of any kinda until after she is married.

Shelby, for her part, goes along with this, and believes it is the moral thing to do. But as this documentary follows her through her high school years, we see Shelby grow distinctly into her own person, as she joins the Youth Commission and begins to campaign for better sex education within schools.

The Education of Shelby Knox is a fascinating documentary on a number of levels. Firstly, it's amazing that the filmmakers managed to find someone at such a young age who ended up taking the path that Shelby does in this film. When we meet Shelby, she is just beginning to get interested in joining the commission, but she is interested purely because she believes that it's naïve to think that others will take her righteous path, and given the statistics, especially in her area, it's craziness for kids not to be taught life lessons such as sex ed. In her spare time, she's still just being sworn in to True Love Waits, and fully trusts its founder, Rev. Ed Ainsworth - a man pops up throughout the film and who is so abhorrent to me that I wanted to be able to reach through the cinema screen and strangle him.

As time goes on, we get to see Shelby opening her eyes more and more to what's really going on around her, and to begin to question everyone and everything, including her parents, and even Ainsworth. It's a remarkable tranformation, and quite amazing that the directors were able to capture this journey of Shelby's.

Secondly, there's the subject matter. Whilst my personal opinion differs (slightly in some cases, and wildly in others) from any of the people shown in the film, the film doesn't present anything as right or wrong. Like Shelby's parents, we're able to disagree with her if we wish - though there is some bias towards Shelby's point of view, nothing is forced down the audience's throats, and conversations etc. are left unedited so that you can either laugh at the stupid Reverend if that is to your liking, or you can agree with his point of view, and go on thinking that Shelby is headed for Hell.

Shelby isn't perfect, and she isn't presented as so. The documentary isn't without its faults either, but it certainly is fascinating to watch these people, especially when it seems at times that each person appearing on screen is more nuts than the last (though I think we all know who takes the crown as the nuttiest of them all). I found myself watching this documentary with a kind of morbid fascination of what was happening, and as it reached its conclusion, of course, things hadn't progressed as far as I had hoped they may have, but it was interesting to see the difference that one person can make, even if it's just by changing one person's mind at a time.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 11 Aug 2005

"Let's talk about sex baby." - a review by thestudent

A popular choice at this year's festival, The Education of Shelby Knox tells of one opinionated teenager's crusade against her district's stance on sexual education in schools.

Lubbock Texas has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It also features some of the most insanely over-the-top people walking the planet, not least of which is abstinence crusader Rev. Ed Ainsworth.

Shelby Knox herself is committed to being chaste until marriage, as part of the True Love Waits program run by the good Reverend Ainsworth. However, as Knox falls deeper into the clutches of local underage student politics via the Youth Commission, she develops a stance on sexual education in schools which is at odds with her parents, her reverend, and the wider community.

An interesting subplot throughout the film is the byplay between her and fellow Youth Commission voicebox Corey Nichols. I'm sure I wasn't alone in assuming from the very start of this film that following her commitment to wait until she was married before having sexual relations, that she would then shag the consummately dough faced Nichols.

Alas, this outspoken teenager beast with two backs never eventuated.

This film was well worth the admission fee, and provided more than enough awkward laughs to settle even the most unimpressed documentary watchers.

thestudent gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 10 Aug 2005

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 7.00
Lowest rating: 7 (by pearly, thestudent)
Highest rating: 7 (by pearly, thestudent)
 
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