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Ross McElwee Jr.
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Portrait of a family in transition: a mother, a father, and their son, their "best boy." Pearl and Max Wohl live in Queens with Philly, their cheerful, engaging, and mentally-disabled son. For 50 years Pearl and Max have provided a loving home for Philly, but they're aging, Max is ailing, and they must figure out what's to happen to Philly when they can no longer care for him. Are there options besides an institution? Philly's cousin is Ira Wohl, whose camera follows the family as Philly takes steps into the wider world. Written by
For any parents or sibling of a mentally-challenged individual, "Best Boy" will prove not just an emotional triumph, but a necessity.
"Best Boy" is one of the loveliest, most heartbreaking yet life-affirming documentaries ever filmed. When I saw it with a group of special education teachers in the early 1990s--teachers who knew students just like Philly and taught them day in and day out--there was not a dry eye in the house. "Best Boy" touches the heart and establishes that the greatest "need" for special people is their liberation from pampering and being spoon-fed, and ultimately being self-sufficient. It also asks the all important question of parents: Are you there for your child (even if the child is nearing 50), or is the "child" there for you? An exceptionally moving film-going experience. If you don't cry while watching this touching real-life story, then you might want to check your pulse.
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