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Ordinary People (1980)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 28,750 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 268 user | 52 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

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(based on the novel by), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Ordinary People (1980)

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Won 4 Oscars. Another 20 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Berger
...
...
Swim Coach
...
...
Karen
...
Joe
...
Ray (as James B. Sikking)
...
Sloan
Quinn K. Redeker ...
Ward (as Quinn Redeker)
...
Audrey
Meg Mundy ...
Grandmother
Elizabeth Hubbard ...
Ruth
...
Stillman
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Storyline

Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the other son. Conrad is overcome by grief and misplaced guilt to the extent of a suicide attempt. He is in therapy. Beth had always preferred his brother and is having difficulty being supportive to Conrad. Calvin is trapped between the two trying to hold the family together. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

therapy | death | suicide | friend | accident | See more »

Taglines:

Everything is in its proper place... Except the past. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 February 1981 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Gente como uno  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$54,800,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film and source novel's "Ordinary People" title comes from Judith Guest's book: "They are ordinary people, after all. For a time they had entered the world of the newspaper statistic; a world where any measure you took to feel better was temporary, at best, but that is over. This is permanent. It must be." The novel is a school text on the English curricula at many American high schools. See more »

Goofs

When Conrad lies down on his bed before calling Jeannine, there is a bulletin board behind his head, on the wall above the bed. The bulletin board is missing in all other bedroom scenes. See more »

Quotes

Calvin "Cal" Jarrett: [Inside his garage,Calvin Jarrett is just getting out of his car after a counseling session with his son Conrad's psychiatrist, Dr. Berger] What I'm... gonna say... will sound strange.
Beth Jarrett: What happened? Come inside.
Calvin "Cal" Jarrett: Could we talk about Buck's funeral?
Beth Jarrett: Whaaaat?
Calvin "Cal" Jarrett: It'll seem trivial. But, it's on my mind and I'd like to talk about it. When I was getting dressed for Buck's funeral...
Beth Jarrett: Calvin, what's the matter with you?
Calvin "Cal" Jarrett: Just let me get it off my chest,OK?
Beth Jarrett: What could getting dressed for Buck's funeral... ...
[...]
See more »


Soundtracks

For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by all at the party
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User Reviews

 
Stunning insight into a family falling apart.
30 January 2005 | by (CT) – See all my reviews

"Ordinary People" deserved its Oscar. There was such fierce competition in 1980 that winning the award was a real honor. The movie should have shared honors with "Coal Miner's Daughter".

Having said that, the reality of the movie is so heartbreaking and so real that you feel every emotion and understand the characters feelings, whether you liked them or not. Mary Tyler Moore's performance of Beth Jarrett is so powerful that you forget Moore's comedic repertoire and immerse yourself into her persona as a cold, distant wife that can not show emotion for her son. It is disturbing that Beth can not show Conrad love and it breaks your heart when you see the awkwardness as he tries so hard to get any love or recognition from her. Her breakdown scene at the golf course and the realization at the end of the movie that she is incapable of affectionate love are powerful performances.

Donald Sutherland's understated and beautiful performance is brilliant. His making up for Beth's shortcomings as an affectionate human being are so touching. He does all he can to keep the rest of his family together. Why he was not nominated for an Oscar is beyond comprehension.

Timothy Hutton absolutely shines as the troubled Conrad. All you want to do is hug him, love him, after his rejections from his own mother. The torture and pain he is in is portrayed so stunningly. His guilt over the death of his brother and subsequent depression are heartbreaking.

Growing up in suburban America, the film rings many a truth to the insights of what people perceive as a "normal family". The cocktail parties, the school activities, the socialization of Beth and her friends over the recognition of her son do happen in suburban America. Robert Redford recognized every real detail of the facades that people put up and the reality of what happens at home. They are poignantly and chillingly realized.

Definitely one of the most deserved Best Picture Oscars given. Please don't miss this one.


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SCENE THAT'S CRINGE INDUCING Missyrocks
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Mary Tyler Moore should have won the Oscar! Writerchamp13
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