Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Left Foot

My Left Foot; Drama, Ireland/ UK, 1989; D: Jim Sheridan, S: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Ray McAnally, Fiona Shaw, Alison Whelan, Kirsten Sheridan, Declan Croghan, Eanna MacLiam, Cyril Cusack

Christy Brown arrives in a wheelchair to his ceremony where he presents his book "My Left Foot", his autobiography: he was born in Dublin in the 1930's with a cerebral palsy. Since he is mute and can only move his left foot, his brothers and father consider his retarded, up until the day when he takes a chalk from the floor and writes the word "mother" on the floor. Christy grew up lonely, with support coming only from his mother, but Dr. Cole learned him how to talk properly, while his paintings come to a gallery. He gets 800 Pounds for the book and gets married to Mary in '72.

Biographical drama "My Left Foot" is a gentle, touching and understandable ode to the hero in the wheelchair, Christy Brown. The first third of the film presents his difficult childhood, plagued by prejudice from the people - in one particularly memorable scene, a man attacks his father, shouting; "Now you won't produce anymore children!", alluding to the fact that Christy was actually his tenth (and unnecessary) child, but who hits him with his head ("A closed mouth won't catch any flies!") - and the anxious, painful way of describing the hero who is moving through the house by crawling. In his adult age he is played by the excellent Daniel Day-Lewis, and his caring mother by Brenda Fricker, who both won an Oscar and a BAFTA for their roles, and were also nominated for a Golden Globe. Of course, their performances are flawless, but the movie is at times heavily melodramatic and routine: handicapped people are automatically more interesting in movies because they are unusual and have a stronger will than the average people, yet that stayed rather underused. Some especially genius scenes are rare (for instance, when he ironically says to someone: "Go or I'll kick you in the butt!"), the pathetic touch is too often felt, while many supporting characters (Christy's siblings) remain pale, even though "Foot" is undoubtedly a very fine made film.


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