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Behind the Mask (1999)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  28 February 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 308 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 2 critic

Dr. Bob Shushan is an overworked and absent father who runs a centre for the mentally and physically challenged. When Shushan suffers a heart attack, his life is saved by James Jones, a ... See full summary »



(life story) (as Dr. Robert Shushan) , (life story), 1 more credit »
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Title: Behind the Mask (TV Movie 1999)

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Complete credited cast:
Dr. Bob Shushan
James Jones
Mary Shushan
Brian Shushan (as Brad Whitford)
Sheila Larken ...
Mrs. Flowers
Ron Sauvé ...
Gordon Jones
Jennifer Clement ...
Kimberly Shushan
Dillon Moen ...
Avery Shusan
Truck Driver
Deanna Williams ...
Hospital Clerk
Damon Johnson ...
Job Candidate
Peter Bryant ...
Brian's Colleague
Pastor Jessie Haynes


Dr. Bob Shushan is an overworked and absent father who runs a centre for the mentally and physically challenged. When Shushan suffers a heart attack, his life is saved by James Jones, a young patient at the center. The two men forge a friendship and help each other rekindle the father-son bond that has been missing in their lives. Written by P. Gray

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Release Date:

28 February 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bajo la máscara  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Taking Masks Off
2 April 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a wonderfully sensitive film of a true story about a handicapped young man suffering from a form of autism, of how through patience and understanding he was brought into society, and reunited with his lost father. It is something of a tear-jerker, but then so is the true story itself. There is some very moving surprise footage at the end of the film, the nature which I cannot reveal because of the rules of reviewing. Donald Sutherland shows what an old pro he is by magisterially taking command of the whole action by his profoundly emotional central performance. He has rarely shown himself more sensitive than in this film. All the performances are good, and Matthew Fox does a wonderful job of portraying the autistic James Jones. The story is really heart-breaking, and the suffering of autistic persons is extraordinarily well portrayed here. Ron Sauvé, who died only a few months ago, gives a very moving performance as Gordon Jones. This is a very serious and unsensationalized attempt to portray the traumas of autism, both for the autistic and those associated with them either as family, at work, or at school. Such films do a lot of good because they help a wider public understand things which to most people may seem wholly incomprehensible. After all, most human suffering which is connected with disabilities is greatly magnified and worsened by the ignorance of other people who do not understand, and who hence act with inhuman insensitivity towards the afflicted individuals and their families. Watching 'James Jones' struggle in the workplace, even one where most of the employees themselves are disabled in some way or other, as in this film, is a lesson in humility to us all. His simple craving to find his lost father and have someone to love, and the apparent hopelessness of his achieving such a wish, take cinematic pathos to new levels. The story does not focus on James Jones alone by any means, but subtle portrays the alienation between Sutherland and his own son, sensitively played by Bradley Whitford, so that the young man who is unhappy because he has a father is contrasted with the young man who is unhappy because he does not. Sutherland, as a compulsive workaholic, is in his own way as 'absent' to his son, despite their physical proximity, as James Jones's father is to his by being genuinely 'lost'. There is another tragic subplot, concerning the callous and heartless mistreatment of Sutherland by his professional colleagues, which serves further to underline the social and personal hypocrisy of which this film also complains. But this is not just a 'worthy' film, it is gripping and emotional because it is so well done. Tom McLoughlin has done a very good job of directing it.

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