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First, I'm not part of the cast or crew. I'm not "affiliated" with the film in any manner. I watched it at the 2011 Down Syndrome Congress National Convention, and I thought it was well worth the time.
Interestingly enough, I wouldn't classify it as a "Down Syndrome" film. I believe it will be just as entertaining and worthwhile to people who have no affiliation with Down as it is to those who do. It's a solid story that highlights some very believable situations.
The situations related to Down are very poignant, despite not being the focus of the movie -- Evan's ability to care for himself barely scrapes "minimal." He doesn't have the acumen to deal with an antagonistic boss, he makes some very poor financial choices, and at times he simply wanders off in a child-like manner. However, when his mother dies, he's left without any kind of caretaker. Unfortunately, his situation is anything but a flight of movie fancy; it happens every day.
Still, Evan, Down Syndrome, and Evan's uncertain future aren't the focus of the film. Candy brings in another very realistic element: a single mother struggling financially, stuck in an abusive relationship after making some poor relationship choices.
I thought the acting was quite good. In particular, Candy's reaction to Evan's infatuation (and the depth of his infatuation) was superb. Jackson Rathbone did well as Russ, too -- with Russ being such a jerk, it would have been easy to make him a caricature "bad guy." Real people are never that one-dimensional, though, and Rathbone added to the realism of the movie by showing some real internal conflict. Yes, Russ is a jerk, but part of that personality is the result of some internal vulnerability and real world events.
And Evan Sneider was excellent. Another reviewer complained that Evan was "obviously coached." Well, yes, that's what director do. They coached Katherine Hepburn, they coach Tom Cruise, they coach William H. Macy, and I'm sure Justin Lerner coached Evan. Both Justin and Evan did a fine job.
The filming itself was great. I was really impressed by how well the choice of shots emphasized the characters' personalities or relationship with the world.
I'm pretty surprised at the snide comments from some of the other reviewers, particularly intimations that this subject matter is somehow "overdone." One reviewer mentions "Life Goes On" -- news flash, folks, that series wrapped up 17 years ago. And the idea that "Girlfriends" is exploitive is ludicrous. The fact that Evan's character is mentally challenged is essential to the plot.
Overall, this was an excellent film and certainly worth taking the time to watch.
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