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This is a very nice movie about two teens in a mental institution.
David (played by Lucas Haas) is afraid to be touched by other people, and
Lisa (brilliantly played by Brittany Murphy) says everything in rhymes, and
seems to have a split personality.
The two become friends, and unconsciously help each others overcome their
Also with Sidney Poitier as the head of the mental institution.
If you like this film, maybe you also like "Her last chance" with Kellie Martin! Rating: 9/10
This may have come about under the aegis of Oprah Winfrey, but don't let
that put you off; "David and Lisa" is far more watchable than her
self-titled opus. (Another British viewer complained that She Who Thinks
She's God appears in an intro before the movie starts; this is the case on
video and on its US screenings, but I watched the movie on BBC2 and her
appearance was removed, for which much thanks. Less justifiably, the Harpo
logo was also absent - I don't like Oprah, but I like end
Though Sidney Poitier is top-billed, Lukas Haas is the real star of the movie; he plays an articulate and intelligent young man who's very disturbed - he suffers from a recurring nightmare involving "clock executions," and has a severe phobia about being touched, all of which accounts for his widowed mother (Allison Janney from "The West Wing") sending him to a special institution.
This movie is basically a love story, and the object of his affections - though it takes him a while to realise it - is a fellow patient played by Brittany Murphy (anyone seeing this after "Girl, Interrupted" and "Don't Say A Word" will probably not be surprised). Given to speaking in rhyme to make her internal demons go away, his interest is at first clinical, but eventually...
Compared to "The Bell Jar" (the book, that is - I haven't seen the movie version), this isn't particularly wrenching, but it isn't meant to be. Blessedly non-sick-making, sensitively told and generally well-performed (some of the freakouts may seem overacted, but how far is too far in cases like this?), "David and Lisa" is an involving story right up to its final scene - there's no real miracle cure, instead a suggestion that they're heading in the right direction. (And unusually for a love story, the two never kiss.)
And to the person who complained about Marco Beltrami's music; in addition to being above-average for TV, it must have been a refreshing change for him to score a movie not about serial killings. Fans of him (and Haas and Murphy) should tune in.
In hindsight, the death of Sidney Poitier's film career probably began in
1989 with "Driving Miss Daisy". A huge "sleeper" hit for Morgan Freeman,
which he capitalised on with later roles in "The Shawshank Redemption" and
As a result, the rare role of "elderly black man" in cinema (matched for obscurity only by the roles of Asian or disabled actors in Hollywood circles) has fallen in favour of Freeman. Not that that's a bad thing, Morgan is a fine actor, but to waste one of the major talents of the cinema (one of the fifty greatest film actors of all time? Twenty? Ten?) on tv movies is a sad waste. Sidney has starred in just eleven films in the last two decades, only five of them for the big screen.
And so, being a huge Poitier fan I rented out "David and Lisa", a love story between two patients at a home for the mentally ill. Lukas Haas and Brittany Murphy do well as the titular characters, while Sidney is, as expected, the greatest performer in the piece.
Yet while Haas gets to do all the real "acting", Sidney is required here to do nothing more than go through the motions, with no material to get his teeth into. Instead, he is called upon to deliver such saccharine lines as "If you don't fall in love with life then you are more dead than alive". His attempts to wade through what is essentially a treacly, self-consciously "heart-warming" story are blighted at every turn. His swift body language and familiar-yet-well-mannered facial array are slowed by the sentimental incidental music that punctuates any "touching" plot development.
For a film that professes to be about mental illness, it can be occasionally sloppy in it's presentation of said theme. The movie is guilty of perpetuating the widely-held myth that "Schizophrenia" refers to multiple personality disorders, while the notion of illnesses than can be cured by love is just too easy an option for a satisfactory resolution.
Ultimately, this is not a bad film, but then neither is it a particularly good one. I gave it average (5) marks, as, like the majority of tv movies, it is a sanitised work, content to sit there and occupy the attention for 85 minutes then go away again leaving no real lasting impression. It's not horrible, it's not bad for your health, but then neither will it alter your life in any great way. The film's undercurrent is the sort of self-aggrandising, pious worthiness that gives liberalism a bad name. In fact, the whole movie walks a tightrope between decent entertainment and preachy sentiment. The only thing it needs to take it over the edge into a swarfegic glob of overstated emotion is a introduction by Oprah Winfrey, where she talks about the film being a "timeless love story" and "love gives us the power to live".
Oh, wait a minute. She does do that, doesn't she? Damn.
I stumbled upon this movie one night at 1 am and I kept me away from the bed! The story is beautiful and sensitive, and the characters beautifully portrayed by talented actors. The complicated, yet wonderful psychology of these 2 persons can equal 2 dozens of explosions in any blockbuster movie. Too bad the movie isn't longer. I have a little gripe against the end, maybe a bit too mushy, but still, wonderful piece of cinema. Bravo.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a film that haunts you for hours, even days, after the credits roll. The story is simple enough, It's about a distraught mother who boards her son David (Lukas Haas) in a psychiatric school for observation under the care of a top psychiatrist (Sidney Poitier), His problem is undiagnosed and all previous treatments have proved futile. At the school he lives very much as a recluse and has an abiding fear that he may die if anyone as much as touches him. This phobia does not prevent him from keeping pace with the latest medical literature. He also has an obsession with clocks and that time is all important. Lukas Haas's portrayal of the mentally sick David is great to watch, really compelling acting- the furtive eye movements, the frightened glances, the rebellious moods, the shambling walk - he is a totally believable psychiatric case. Balancing David's explosive outbursts, we have the cool, calm, unruffled doctor making every attempt to get through to the young patient, but never forcibly, never over-stepping the mark. There are a number of scenes that really excite me. An outburst of anger by David who is crazed with the idea that "time" is uncontrollable, unstoppable. Another crazy outburst about medicos who use medical jargon to show off their superiority. In another scene David tells of his recurring dream where he executes those who oppose him with a large (razor-sharp) hand of an enormous clock. "Perhaps you'll be next" he says to the doctor. The doctor's gentle but persuasive manner finally plants in David's mind the seed of a thought that people who have feelings may be more important than clocks which have none. Into the picture come Lisa (Brittany Murphy) a rather pretty young psychiatric patient who speaks only in rhyming words and sentences, such as "Hello...Kid-o" and "Look at me! What do you see?" David admits he is interested in her merely as a case study, but his expressive eyes and facial expressions indicate to us that that he is slowly but surely moved by her presence, her naivety and her trust. The final scene of the film suggests that though it may take some time there is genuine hope for both of them. This is a "must-see" film, both for the great acting and for its message of hope.
There have been many movies about mentally disturbed teens. Some have been quite effective such as the excellent performance by Shawn Cassidy in Like Normal People. Of course Ordinary People remains the standard. However, David and Lisa was a revelation. The performance by Lukas Haas was especially gripping - Emmy quality. It should lead to better roles for him in the future. Likewise Brittany Murphy was totally convincing with surprisingly subtle changes in her appearance during key lines. It was a joy to see Sidney Poitier in an understated but effortless performance. The photography was captivating, with occasional flashes of grainy documentary-type black and white frames. An altogether excellent production.
The second I saw the article in the Sunday paper about this film, I knew it was going to be a keeper. Unable to watch it as it was aired (and, after all, I like to tape everything anyway just in case) I saw it the following day. It's truly beautiful. I was in tears when David lets 'Lisa' hold his hand. It's touching, and just crazy enough for us 'artsy' types. *smile* Get a hold of a copy of it somehow. You've got to. Really, truly watch it. Listen to the dialogue. Watch the actor's eyes. Keep tissues handy for the end.
"David and Lisa," is one of those rare productions that remind us how good television can be. Portrayals of people with mental illnesses are always difficult. That there was room for reality and subtlety is a tribute to the creators and performers. Brittany Murphy's performance as Lisa will be on my mind for a long time. I can only hope that it will bring her more and more important roles, along with her first Emmy nomination. Thanks to Oprah for bringing this wonderful story to a new generation.
"David and Lisa" is a beautifully updated version of this love story by Theodore Isaac Rubin. It shows careful research into modern psychiatry.
The trouble with a re-make is that it will inevitably be compared with the first. In this case, that would be the superb 1962 film version. It's been nearly 40-years since I saw it, but it left a powerful, indelible impression on me. Unfortunately, this one looked like a Hallmark TV movie against the classic 60's version, which I sincerely hope that anyone who enjoyed this version will take the time to see. As much as I dearly love Sidney Poitier, none of the cast of this psychological pot boiler can hold a candle to the original, which featured the best actors from the Broadway stagenot movie actorsparticularly a superb Howard Da Silva as the doctor and Keir Dullea as David, in the role that I personally feel is his best (you may remember him as the marooned astronaut in Stanley Kubrick's classic, "2001"). Do yourself a favor and watch this one, too.
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