Three Corners of Deception
Director: Meleeka Clary
Style: Drama, Docu-Feature
By Mike Szymanski
This is a most fascinating docu-drama. This movie called “Three Corners of Deception” records the true-life story of Dr. Maleeka Clary who also is the screenwriter, director and actress in the movie. Maleeka got into a nasty marriage and lost custody of her son by what she says is a corrupt system that worked against her. Judges, police and others seemed to conspire against her with her ex-husband because she kept kicking up a hornet’s nest. She got a judge removed from her custody battle, she picketed the courthouse, and created many outbursts, that perhaps were justified, but harmed her cause in the long run. Judges threw fines at Maleeka, and many lawyers were changed over time, and they even threw the mother in jail for Baptizing her son without the father’s permission. Maleeka decided to portray herself in this two-hour-and-14-minute drama, which seems to last a bit too long. This seems like a very private and personal movie, in what is almost a voyeuristic look at the most private and most devastating moment of Maleeka’s life.
The overall message is how Maleeka hopes to inspire and empower women to stand up, seek help, and take control of their lives.
The film is an award-winning romantic drama that chronicles the divorce and child custody battle within a system of judges, police and lawyers who created a good-old-boy network against Maleeka.
A problem is that Maleeka herself seems wildly unreasonable at times, and paranoid, which maybe is the necessary balance needed in telling her story, but doesn’t always make you root for her. She is impulsive, erratic and often times taking the more difficult way out rather than the easiest.
The movie is plagued slightly with camerawork that gets dizzying for a while with back-and-forth camera work, and also bad sound in some parts of the film where it’s impossible to hear the spoken words. It’s also blurry unnecessarily in some scenes
This Indiana case seems to be a case that reveals the underside of a person being treated unfairly. Is it because she is a Black woman? Is it because she is poor? It’s never really clear.
An outstanding part of the film is the music that is mostly from brilliant performer and songwriter Shawn Cornelius. The music throughout the movie truly enhances what is going on in the movie, whether it is at a nightclub, or in court, or at a park. The words are catchy and interesting and definitely enhance the plot.
Admittedly, some of the parts of her story are fictitious and put in to create a cohesive narrative, but there are things that still make you wonder what is real and what isn’t.
Maleeka goes to her ex-husband’s girlfriend that he was seeing at the same time as her, and asks for help, in one of the most unrealistic scenes. The teen-aged daughters come across as brats when they refuse to help change the baby and the husband seems to be at wit’s end when they complain “he stinks” about the baby, but do nothing except watch TV.
The likelihood that parent would be denied custody of their child because their IQ isn’t high enough, as one judge proposed, seems unlikely today, we hope. But we know these days anything can happen in the judicial system that is being corrupted and politicized all the way to the top.
One of the most confusing things that I found most confusing was the choice of making her husband different actors and having a label explaining what parts of her ex-husband (named Melvin) was. They were the best actors in the film, and very handsome and were Angry Melvin (played by Joshua Scandland, Romantic Melvin portrayed by Tanner Vydos, and Suave Melvin played by Swapnil Shah. Thankfully a film tag to remind us who was who was always on the screen, but I’m not sure I understood why the actor were different.
Despite the repetition in many places, this is a remarkable first feature by Maleeka, and it has been honored already in many film festivals. It won Best Feature Film at the Berlin International Festival and Best Human Rights Director at the Toronto International Women Film Festival, as well as the Medusa Film Festival. The International Independent Film Awards gave Maleeka the Bronze Award for Best Narrative Feature.
Again, it’s such a heartfelt personal story, it’s tough to criticize this beautiful film, and you know that every emotion portrayed is real.