Mentor

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Mentor Movie Poster Image
Intense docu examines bullying as cause of two teen suicides
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 80 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Strongly advocates taking bullying and its consequences seriously. Provides significant evidence of the dangers of a school's refusal and/or inability to deal with important issues of safety and the well-being of their students. Promotes having substantial, workable anti-bullying programs in place in school communities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Introduces teens and bullying experts who provide testimony about the events that took place; those interviewees are portrayed as reliable, thoughtful, and proactive. Recounts a history of caring, involved parents who intervened on their child's behalf; their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. The parents in a second family appear as devoted, brave, and engaged in their child's life. All members of the Mentor, Ohio, school system declined to be interviewed. Evidence presented in this film vilifies the Mentor High School staff and other school agencies.

Violence

No on-camera violence, though the subject matter is teen suicide as a result of bullying. Dialogue that recalls in detail the discovery of the two central suicide victims is graphic and heartbreaking.

Sex
Language

Name-calling by bullies is reiterated: "fag," "queer," "vagina," "lesbian." "Hell" is said twice.

Consumerism

Many Mentor, Ohio, community businesses are shown in the background and in shots of the city. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mentor is a cautionary tale, a documentary about two teens from Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio, who were victims of severe bullying and ultimately killed themselves in 2007 and 2008. The film is an in-depth uncovering of the events leading to the deaths of 16-year-old Sladjana Vidovic and 17-year-old Eric Mohat and the aftermath of each. Interviews with family, friends, a reporter, a psychologist, and a lawyer are both heartbreaking and discouraging as the viewer is soon informed of the many efforts parents made to get help and how their pleas to the school went unanswered. With no rebuttal from Mentor school district personnel (all declined to be interview), it's a damning indictment of their policies and actions. Candid discussions and graphic recollections of the events as they unfolded make this a movie best suited for mature kids only. Members of the Vidovic family are refugees from war-torn Croatia, and most of their dialogue is subtitled in English.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBabyears March 11, 2015

FROM SOMEONE WHO WAS THERE

This movie is very important. It should be shown in every junior high health class in America. The movie is about bystander culture. It is about standing up... Continue reading
Adult Written bychiggs March 2, 2015

one sided

I believe this movie is very one sided. It is devising what happened however there are lots of facts left out. Bullying is a problem at any school. The fault s... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Mentor, Ohio, has been listed on several "100 Best Cities" lists of American cities. But Alix Lambert's furious documentary, MENTOR, shows another side of this idyllic-seeming community. Though it's noted that Mentor High was the school of two earlier suicide victims and one accidental overdose, Lambert focuses on two kids. Eric Mohat was 17, a lovable, eccentric kid: a choir member, a boy who initially wasn't afraid of being different, and a kid with a good family and caring parents. When he shot himself to death, it was just after a bullying classmate told him, "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself. It's not like anyone would care." Eric never told his parents about the bullying, so his death was a surprise. Only a year later, 16-year-old Sladjana Vidovic, a Croatian immigrant, was picked on verbally and physically assaulted at Mentor High because of her "funny name," her accent, and her "difference." Unlike Eric, Sladjana was vocal about her distress. Her parents made unending trips to the school asking for help, and Sladjana spent a part of almost every day in the nurse's office and crying by herself in a bathroom. So it wasn't a surprise when she hung herself in her bedroom. Through interviews with family members, other kids, some experts, a lawyer, and a reporter and excerpts from school records (with names redacted), Lambert portrays Mentor High School personnel as chilling. And her depictions of Eric and Sladjana are devastating. Lambert intercuts her heartbreaking moments with lots of landscapes and cityscapes, constantly reminding the viewer of the "every town" nature of Mentor and how close the city is to all the other suburban "100 Best Cities" in America.   

Is it any good?

Alix Lambert does an effective job of showing what happened at Mentor High, who the bullying victims were and are, and how many lives were touched by the tragedies there. For the Mohat and Vicovic families, not only were there no happy endings, but their efforts to bring the tragedy into the light and to hope for better for other kids were stifled in every way. From the bullying girls who came to Sladjana's wake, laughed at the dress she was wearing in her coffin, and posted about its "ugliness" on MySpace; to the school counselor who shredded all her documents related to one student immediately after the death; to the lawyer who fought unsuccessfully to give the two families their day in court, in spite of stunning evidence; and, finally, to the refusal of any school official to be interviewed or even respond, it's all tragic. It's unimaginable that anyone could stay with Mentor through the closing credits without feeling overwhelmingly saddened and frustrated by what he or she has seen. Though Lambert does succeed in finally giving these families their day in the court of public opinion, it's relentlessly bleak. It tells the tale well but offers no positive perspective about how things can be made better; no family members get any relief from what they've suffered, and we don't know if there were any consequences paid or changes made in the school district's methodology.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about bullying as a subject that requires awareness on everyone's part. Have you been a witness to bullying? What steps can you take to help? Why do kids who go along with the bully or laugh at the situation play a part in the victim's distress?

  • The Mentor High School staff and the Mentor school board refused to be interviewed for this film. How did that fact influence your assessment of what you watched and heard? Do you think those people were well served by their decision? Why, or why not? 

  • Make it your business to know how your school or community is dealing with bullying. What, if any, programs are in place to protect kids from bullying? How does your local school community handle those who have been identified as bullies? 

Movie details

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