Title: Divorce Corp.
Reviewed for Shockya by Harvey Karten. Data-based on RottenTomatoes.com
Director: Joe Sorge
Screenwriter: Joe Sorge, James D. Scurlock, Philip Sternberg, Blake Harjes
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 12/7/13
Opens: January 10, 2014
In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 2, act 4, scene 2, Dick the Butcher says, “Let’s kill all the lawyers,” which, if anyone today has doubts, proves that the Bard was indeed a clever man. Dick and Jack Cade believe that all the lawyers do is to shuffle parchments around, inevitably hurting the common people, which means that human institutions haven’t changed since the play was written centuries back. Polls taken in current times often show that in terms of professions we trust and those we do not, lawyers fall a little above used car salesmen in the latter category.
You don’t have to read Henry VI to get an inkling of how lawyers—and judges as well, and throw in psychologists and assorted others—corrupt the American Way, leading Joe Sorge, who directed the entertaining and insightful “Divorce Corp.” to compare the good old USA with Iceland and Scandinavia. In fact, if this documentary were widely shown, Americans might a) give up their citizenship and live in Reykjavik or Stockholm, or b) forget about ever getting married or having children.
Frequently using cartoon graphics to illustrate key points, such as literal fights between a man and woman over a bagful of money and using piles of money stacked to the ceiling, Joe Sorge condemns many of our judges and lawyers but believes that the problem is the system that allows this corruption. (See above note about Iceland and Sweden.)
The title “Divorce Corp.,” a little wordplay on the term divorce court, holds that the divorce industry in American is a moneymaking proposition—provided that you’re not one of the parties to the marital split. In fact if we emulated the Scandinavian system, we would have enough money to pay for fifty new drugs yearly and feed every kid from kindergarten through high school free, year after year. Or provide full college scholarships to five million students annually. If you wonder how the laws of our various states are written to enrich the stockholders in the divorce corporation, consider that some judges are given campaign contributions by lawyers who appear in their divorce courts, and yet no conflict of interest is maintained. In fact some judges can wear the black robes on Monday, then on Tuesday appear in that same courtroom as lawyers!
While admittedly some lawyers in America are starving because of an oversupply, some who specialize in family law make $600-$750 an hour, and what’s more they’ve billed people while taking their kids to the movies or doing anything but advocacy work. In one case, a poor schlub who criticized a judge on the Internet is held to be in contempt and is sent to jail when he refused to continue apologizing on the ‘net for remarks that he thought were protected by the First Amendment.
The ninety-three minutes zip by given the film’s fine editing and choices of locations—particularly California but including states like Indiana. But don’t expect a Hollywood ending. If you become depressed for a while after seeing this documentary, Joe Sorge has done his job well.
93 minutes © 2013 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – A-
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B+