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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
under-rated, poetic exploration of the human spirit
Samantha Mathis, Jonathan Silverman, and Natalie Cole? Sounds like it ought to be trite and even a bit goofy or silly...however, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Ruth (Mathis) undergoes a beautiful transformation in this film. She finds her life in utter upheaval after the death of her grandmother. Dealing not only with that loss, she must also seek to find personal peace in Lewellyn, a care facility she is placed in against her will by her aunt.
It is here that she encounters Lenny (Silverman), Cass (Matlin), Elanor (Cole), and Cal (Sarsgaard). Each facing their own affliction, Ruth must learn to deal with her MS.
I must take a moment to applaud Peter Sarsgaard's performance as Cal. Through his conversations on Dante's inferno and his own personal demons rising to the surface, he monopolized my attention. He is phenomenal, powerful, real, and, above all, believable.
I urge you all to rent this, especially if you are involved in any way with health care. This is a beautiful story and film deserving more attention.
Caution: there are, at times, some predictable moments, Natalie's song does seem to be about two verses too long, and Lenny's mother (who you'll know as Roseanne's sitcom mom) is unavoidably annoying.
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