Freak City tells the moving story of a young woman, played by Samantha Mathis, who is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and is institutionalized by her family. Alone and feeling abandoned she struggles to regain her sense of dignity and independence by bonding with a wide assortment of fellow patients. Other residents at the home include Jonathan Silverman as a blind man, Marlee Maitlin, a slightly retarded woman, and singer-actress Natalie Cole as a blues singer injured in an accident and left with severe mental and emotional challenges. Working together they share many funny and sometimes bittersweet moments and celebrate overcoming their challenges as a family brought together by circumstance. Written by
This is a story of Ruth (Samantha Mathis) a young disabled woman who was living with her grandmother. The grandmother dies and the Ruth has lost her home and her caregiver. She is forced to move into a nursing home by her scheming family since they hold the power of attorney.
This is where the story is derailed. Perhaps 50 years ago it would be plausible for a competent person to be committed to a home against their will, but not now. There is no way for this to happen. Ruth is of sound mind, and she is able to manage her life except she is unable to walk. She could leave the hospital or nursing home any time she wanted, they can't hold you since these places aren't prisons. The only time you can be held against your will is if you're held on a psychiatric charge (a danger to yourself or to others), and that only is for 3 days.
So the movie starts off on the wrong foot, and it doesn't improve much from there. The characters are the typical quirky one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs you find in these types of pictures; a waste of a good cast. Then there is a love story, a fight against the family and the dealings with the other patients in the home. The story takes no risks and explores no new territory.
If the writers tried a little harder, they could have made a compelling story of a woman facing a serous debilitating disease and how she copes. Rather than a forced admission where she is held against her will, they could have given us a the real world scenario where Ruth runs out of choices and has to live in the nursing home because there is no other place for her to go. Her sole remaining family won't take her, and conspires to get the grandmother's house, leaving Ruth with no alternatives. We could see how she deals with her fellow patients in the home, how she deals with her illness, and how she fights to get back her house. If the writers gave us a story of a real struggle then it would be a film that means something. Instead the writers took the easy way with clichéd villains, badly written characters, and a ridiculous story. Could have been much better.
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