“Every Day” plays at the M.V. Film Center on Thursday, Dec. 22. It is a subtle and gripping story about the aftermath on a high school student after she experiences a sexual assault. Directed by Australian Tara Brown and New Zealander Vin Chandra, it stars awardwinning Sofia Masson. A Brazilian-American, Masson grew up on Martha’s Vineyard.
In the Q and A following the film, Masson appears, as well as two staff members of Community Services’ Connect to End Violence; Jenny Rosen serves as clinical services manager for Connect, and Pricila Vilaca as outreach coordinator.
The viewer meets Maddie, played by Masson, in the office of therapist Morgan (Vivica A. Fox). It isn’t clear at first why Maddie is there. As the film switches back and forth from Morgan’s interviews with Maddie to scenes from Maddie’s life, the viewer learns that Maddie was raped in high school. Even though Maddie reported the assault, no one took her seriously, and when a video of the assault was circulated, she became an outcast among other high school students.
Ten years pass, and Maddie takes a job as a tutor for a wealthy family. Maddie meets Laurel (Nicole Coulon), who works there as a nanny. They hit it off immediately, even though the couple, Paige (Tara Alexandra Brown) and James (Mark Daugherty), are Maddie’s best friends from high school. As Maddie’s relationship with Laurel grows, it becomes clear that Laurel has a crush on Maddie. Paige and James become suspicious of Laurel’s motives for her attraction to Maddie. “We don’t trust her,” they warn Maddy, but she claims that Laurel is “a breath of fresh air.”
As their relationship evolves, Laurel tells Maddie that like her, Laurel is a survivor too. In addition, she tells Maddie that Laurel’s mother picked on her, so she left home at age 15 and moved in with a boyfriend. Evidence of Laurel’s questionable behavior and lies shows up increasingly. Without Paige’s or James’s knowledge, she has acquired a key to their apartment and shows up there regularly. When a $12,000 Tiffany item shows up in Laurel’s purse, Maddie covers for Laurel, and confesses that she stole it. As a result, the family tells Maddie there will be no more tutoring sessions.
During their counseling, Morgan encourages Maddie to see love as intoxicating, but Maddie responds that Laurel is the first person to help her forget about what happened in high school. As things escalate, Laurel takes photos of Maddie and circulates them on the internet, even though it reminds Maddie of what happened in high school, and she has explicitly told Laurel not to. The evidence of Laurel’s manipulative behavior piles up.
Laurel manufactures a reason to sleep with Maddie, and soon she is spending every night with her. Laurel takes things to the next step, sexually accosting Maddie in her sleep. Shocked, Maddie wakes up and tells Laurel to leave. Paige and James suggest that Maddie should call the police, but Maddie refuses. She says “When a woman is raped, that’s just the beginning. It never ends.”
She tells Morgan, “I thought I could defend myself. It’s all still there. I bet he’s doing fine. I wonder if he thinks he did anything wrong.” At this point, the truth comes out — Maddie had tried to kill herself, but Paige found her and took her to the hospital.
The power of “Every Day” lies in the gradual way Maddie’s relationship with Laurel unfolds. The film reflects the way women who have been raped hide their assault even though it haunts them, and how the scars it inflicts never heal.