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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Great acting shines through realistic story

Author: sjm337161753 from New York NY
27 August 2004

I thought this was one of the most moving & original, as well as one of the best-acted teleplays, that I've seen in a long long time. Very moving. I'm not the mother of a disabled child so I can't speak to Anjelica Huston's portrayal as the mother, but I felt sympathetic to her. I also felt sympathetic to the father's position, which proves the strength of this teleplay. You get to see all sides and no one was judged; everyone, including the children of the couple, are just set forth in all their good and bad points. It's a pretty remarkable story, in that these people seem real -- it's not some adaptation of a Danielle Steel fantasy; these people could be your neighbors.

I really appreciated that this is fairly true adaptation of the book, as well. I recommend this to anyone who wants to see great acting all around, and a story that's realistically portrayed.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

I felt this movie described this special situation very well.

Author: s-kyle from usa
8 August 2004

I am the parent of a grown son with a form of autism. Life with a special needs child can be chaotic, especially with a diagnosis that is very vague and so unpredictable. When you have a child with this disorder, you live in "their world" a lot of the time and so do their siblings. It can become indistinguishable. I felt that Anjelica Huston's performance was so powerful that I would believe that she had actually lived it. I can relate to her. First of all, her protectiveness of her son. She always wanted to include him even though it was not necessarily best for him or for the rest of the family. There have been so many times I have tried to do the same thing. Secondly, she was always trying to make things right with him and keep the peace. You feel so much guilt when things aren't right with your children. The siblings are definitely effected and influenced. Their lives become different also, but not necessary in a negative way. I felt they captured many of the same feelings my daughter has dealt with and is dealing with today. Sam O'Neill gave a compelling performance as the father. Unfortunately, the mother could not see beyond her pain and grief to appreciate a husband who was there initially and cared so much. Because she was unable to deal with this devastating reality of life and her feelings of failure as a mother, she drove him away. I felt this movie was not about autism, but about the lives affected by it. Well done!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

was real for me

9/10
Author: marciadietrich from United States
21 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have two autistic children, one 'normal' as well. It is the lower functioning boy that I could see in this movie. The one who has a bolt on his door to lock him in there for OUR safety. The one that our lives revolve around.

For me this movie hit home on many levels and I felt it was a better movie for focusing more on the effects on the family than solely on the autistic son Randall. He wasn't made into some sort of superhero savant who was going to by skill or chance save the day. He was a force of nature in their lives (Sam Neill says so when holding Randall's ashes, 'so light for such a force'). A force that permeated everything they did (the parents) and everything they became (the siblings). I related to many of the feelings and problems of both the parents. That the father started wanting to send the boy away when the problematic son was still young and the mother clings and refuses againsts all odd ... very, very real to my life.

My rating is lowered slightly only for the length which could have been shorter (guess was a mini series originally and thought it should have been scaled back a bit) and if you are not an Angelica Huston fan (and I'm not) she can occasionally grate on you.

Overall, I found this the most real of any movie on autism because it focused on more than just the quirks of autism as a device plot. It didn't bother me that the family was rich, it actually contrasted the reality of his problems against an even more ideal or perfect situation of having all you want - all you want except for your son to be normal.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Disgustingly fake and unrealistic (SPOILER)

1/10
Author: Rosabel from Ottawa, Canada
29 October 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having autistic children myself has left me with very high standards for film treatments of this disorder, but I have never seen a movie that infuriated and insulted me more than this one. Every family relationship in this movie is fake, and the focus is entirely on the mother, played by Anjelica Huston, not on the autistic son, Randall. His problem only exists in so far as it affects her - he is handicapped, she suffers; the strain turns her husband to womanizing, and she suffers; husband leaves, son turns violent and has to be sent away, and she suffers. It's easy to see who is the star in this family, and who deserves all our pity and consideration. In addition to the phony family dynamics, there are simple matters of everyday life that don't add up. A family splits up and one of the members is severely handicapped, but this doesn't seem to affect anyone financially at all - dad just moves to his own apartment, and mom and the kids keep living the life of southern planters in a big old Victorian house; she doesn't even have to go to work, not even when Randall is instutionalized in a fine (and therefore expensive) school where he finally learns to eat normally and communicate. Once the problem child is out of the way, dad returns home and everything is peachy again, and nobody seems to find this the least bit disgusting, or think such a gutless husband and father is perhaps not worth having.

It's the ending, though, that really left me outraged; once Randall is run over by a car and killed, mom in a great burst of feminist liberation shouts "I'm free! I'm free!" kicks dad out and divorces him, and out of nowhere embarks upon a successful and satisfying career as a theatrical scene painter. Turns out that despite her devotion to her handicapped son, she always saw him as a total lost cause and never loved him as much as she did her normal children. Thank goodness he does the right thing at last and dies so that she can get on with doing what she wants with her much more important life. This is a selfish "do your own thing" screed masquerading as a serious look at a serious disability, and I found it utterly disgusting. There was only one good thing about it, and that was the performance of Dermott Mulroney as the older brother, Mack. He was realistic and rough-edged, and was the only real person in the entire movie.

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great movie

8/10
Author: kelleclipse-966-920937 from United States
1 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I loved the book and was so excited to see the movie. I was impressed with the book to television adaptation. This movie was so dead-on with the casting. Each and every character was exactly as I imagined. The scenes with Randall, the strained family encounters, even the kitchen scenes were just right. Such small things have remained in my memory- like the shoes under the bed and the father distancing himself from the realities of what his family ended up being. Angelica Houston's portrayal of a divorced older woman was perfection. I have been looking for this movie on DVD and would love to see it again. This is a book I reread often.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Greek Tragedy

9/10
Author: pacieterra-1 from United States
15 December 2006

This exceptionally fine film, with a cast of major star players, offers an insider's view of a large family's reaction to an autistic brother. Their daily affairs, from early childhood embarrassments to adult empathy, is held in a stranglehold by the guilt-ridden mother, Angelica Huston. The father, played by the solid Sam Neill, descends from non-acceptance of his son's disability to escaping in mid-life crises. Overall, his strong characterization reflects a true dilemma, unfortunately, affecting his wife and other five children. His daughter, Kyra Sedgwick, and other son, Dermot Mulroney turn in major performances as flawed and undervalued family members. Much of the exposition seems like Greek Tragedy among the various players. The final resolution brings everyone around, but may not be realistic in the end.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Family Disfunction

Author: silverbells from St. George, UTah
24 May 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**May Contain SPOILERS**

Family Pictures is about a so called perfect family. David and Lainie Eberlin and their three children Liddie, Mack and Randall living the American dream in the '50s. David is a successful psychiatrist and Lainie a homemaker. Their world is turned upside down when it is determined that their youngest, Randall, is autistic. This is in the days when theories regarding autism were rather archiac. David being a psychiatrist believes the theory that the child was rejected in the womb. Lainie responds to the sad news by promptly becoming pregnant with three more children, daughters in three years. Their father refers to them as the last straws. The story is told from the oldest of the last straws, Nina's perspective. The family is disfunctional with mom drinking too much and dad having affairs. Randall is out of control at times but always cared for and protected by Lainie. This leaves Nina feeling that her mother loves him more than the rest of her children, to whom she refers to as her perfect babies. The children grow up with various problems, the story centers mainly on Nina and Mack. Mack is an shiftless alcoholic with a bond to his brother. Nina has self esteem issues and relationship difficulties.

I enjoyed the movie and the book because no family is perfect and this family's problems seemed very real. Nina was able to understand herself after coming to terms with her parents and understanding their pain so long ago.

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