Every F---ing Day of My Life
Stark, appalling, and heartbreaking are all words that came to mind when I viewed Every F---ing Day of My Life. Every F---king Day of My Life depicts a woman’s last four days of freedom before being sentenced to ten years in prison for murdering her brutally abusive husband. The film, which follows Wendy Maldonado and her young sons, also bears witness to the resiliency of women and children who must survive within these dysfunctional unions.
The film opens with home video of a long-ago family outing, then cuts to the gut-wrenching 911 call that Wendy made the night she killed her husband, then cuts again to Wendy recounting her early days with her husband, Aaron. After marrying Aaron at age seventeen, Wendy, who is already aware of Aaron’s possessiveness, quickly realizes just how disturbed her young husband is. He becomes increasingly violent, frequently beating her and their four sons. Wendy endures the abuse for nineteen years before impulsively deciding to do away with her partner. She beats him to death with a hammer, caving his skull. Wendy’s eldest son, Randy, who participates solely out of a desire to protect his mother and younger brothers, is eventually charged and convicted of second-degree manslaughter.
Every F---ing Day of My Life serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of ignoring domestic violence. It is a documentary masterpiece due to its very simplicity; there are no voice-overs, no talking head interviews, no fancy cinematography to turn the film’s laser sharp focus away from its emotionally devastated subjects. Instead, the filmmaker cleverly intersperses home video footage (most of which was shot by Aaron) with the present-day activities in the Maldonado house.
As the Maldonados veer between a cheerful denial and a somber acceptance of their circumstances, they discuss the violence they endured at Aaron’s hands. The matter-of-fact, even jocular, tone the Maldonados use to discuss the unrelentingly cruel abuse is even more chilling than the crime scene photos presented at the beginning of the film. As Wendy shows off the only four teeth left in her upper jaw, exhibits the homemade artwork used to disguise the holes Aaron punched in the wall, and takes the film crew to the wooded “kill me” spot that Aaron regularly took her to, she makes an understated yet extraordinarily powerful statement about the chaos that intimate partner violence causes.
The extensive use of the home video footage highlights yet another reality about domestic violence: mainly, that it is perpetrated not by monsters, but by seemingly average men who are often careful not to let their true colors show to the outside world. As Aaron mugs for the camera, he appears almost freakishly normal. He doesn’t look like someone who would beat and terrorize his family for nearly two decades. Director Tommy Davis’ decision to use this footage is an excellent creative choice.
Every F---king Day of My Life also demonstrates how suffering prematurely ages people; as the film progresses, we see Wendy transform from an incandescently beautiful teenager to a worn, nearly haggard woman in early middle age. A teenage Randy, who is interviewed from county jail, also looks old beyond his years.
Every F---ing Day Of My Life should be required viewing for every teenager in America, as well as anyone who is likely to encounter a victim of domestic violence. This story could save lives.
** This film premieres on HBO December 14, 2009 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and will continue to _air throughout December.