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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The best life lesson comes from our own experience.

9/10
Author: Reno Rangan from Somewhere in the Cosmos
4 June 2016

I recently reviewed a French film called 'Marie's Story', and that led me to check out another masterpiece 'The Miracle Worker'. I loved both the films which are based on the real story that sets around the same time, but in the different continents. This was inspired by those two, other than that there's no connection. In fact they have given a credit by mentioning the Hollywood version. Only a similar theme, but the plot revolves differently. Like it gives an insight of some misconception on the autism.

It was actually about a 18 year old rebellious girl Jack, who meets a child with autism. After her young sister was taken away by the child service, she plans to fight back for her custody as they were promised to their mother that they would stay together. Now all she has to do is to find a job, but for her criminal record, she has only one way to get one and she pushes for it. So the story begins when the struggle for her sister guide for a new and unexpected life for both her and the family she meets.

The major misunderstanding is it is not all about autism, it was only a part of the story. But the original tale is about a girl whose life transformation from the teenhood to the adulthood. You could say it is a kind of mix of coming-of-age and self-discovery. The phase of that life is very crucial, especially for those who had lost their parents and struggling to find their own place in the society. So the learning process comes from their own experience than anybody's guidance. In that perspective, it was a beautiful and a simple family drama that inspires us. It was not based on the real story, but a very close to one, that's how it leaves the expression on the audience.

"Just felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest and served on a cracker."

The girl who played the role of an autistic child was good, not fully impressed, but the effort was highly appreciable. As I said the story's focus was on AnnaSophia Robb, though Famke Janssen has given a decent performance too. Most of the human inventions were the accidents and so the most of the relationships. It is until they meet, the right person for each, then their life would be changed forever. Like perhaps Annie-Helen and Marie-Marguerite from the films I mentioned in the first paragraph.

The human bond is very unique, but moving to the modern world's society, the rules have kept changing on treating the individuals because of the status of their life. So for the orphans, especially in the first world countries not easy to tackle such situation. This film highlights some of the issues, where and how the teenagers are getting lost.

Love and care are what most essential for the children, that's what family is for and with that kind of support they will achieve good things in life. But not the same case for the orphans who're treated as some kind of robots and forced to do against their will. It is good for their future, but a messed up system and its officials behaving badly like handling a prisoner. That's how Jack looks at from the perspective of her own life, until she meets a family who seek her help and realises the life is not as complicated as it looks, but we've to opt a right path to travel which needs a great sacrifice on the way to accomplish.

It is a very good message film. When one fails to realise, just let them to experience themselves until they come to realise. Sometimes it will be too late to begin again, but nothing is impossible. It is very sad that the film is undiscovered by many. It is no masterpiece, but the quest was very clear to depict the world from the teenager's perspective about how they look at the society, especially the system that laid eyes on them when no other eyes are looking after them. I Highly recommended it, especially for the drama fans and the family audience. Perhaps it might be one of the must see from the last year.

8/10

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Autism and Rebellion

6/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
25 February 2016

Greetings again from the darkness. Being the parent of an autistic child carries challenges that require incredible patience and love and extraordinary effort. Writer Jennifer Deaton and Director Janet Grillo (Fly Away, 2011) deliver an insightful and interesting look at these challenges through the eyes of two parents, their autistic daughter, their teenage son, and the in-home caregiver they hire.

The film begins with a glimpse of what appears to be two different worlds: a street wise teenage girl helping her younger sister "escape" from a foster home, and two beaten down parents of a young autistic daughter. Soon enough, these two worlds collide and Jack/Jacqueline/Donna is hired by the parents to be a live-in companion for their daughter. The parents are so desperate for help that they fall for the savvy con being played by Donna.

None of what happens is surprising … Donna turns out to have a knack for helping autistic Glory, the parents begin to experience a bit more happiness, the teenage son develops a crush on Donna, and the cloud of truth is constantly hovering. Even though some of the scenes are bit corny, for the most part the story is told in a grounded manner that allows us to connect with all of the characters – conveying the pressures, stress and periodic moments of breakthrough.

The acting is strong throughout. Taylor Richardson (A Most Violent Year) is exceptional as the autistic Glory. She is believable and never goes beyond what fits for the character. Famke Janssen and Scott Cohen are solid as the parents, and Israel Broussard shows real promise as teenage Robert/Bobert. Donna/Jack's younger sister has limited screen time, but Sophia Anne Caruso (Brigitta in TV's live version of The Sound of Music) makes it work. Shouldering much of the film is Anna Sophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia, The Way Way Back) as Jack/Donna. She does her best work in the second half of the film, as her initial tough-girl stint is a bit shaky. However her scenes with Glory are outstanding, and it's a pleasure to watch her slowly turn over a new leaf.

As strong as the cast is, much of the credit goes to director Grillo (ex-wife of David O. Russell) who has a real understanding of the world of autism, and keeps us focused on importance of family, the need to be loved, and the rewards of finding one's place in the world.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A powerful film about a form of redemption

9/10
Author: Red-125 from Upstate New York
16 November 2015

Jack of the Red Hearts (2015) was directed by Janet Grillo. It stars Jenny Jaffe as "Jack," who changes her identity so that she can be hired as a live-in assistant by a family with a child with autism. She needs the money, and she needs a safe place to stay. She has no knowledge of how to work with a child with autism, but she is savvy and she learns fast. OK--some of the scenes were a little syrupy, but there was just a small suspension of disbelief required. Most of the scenes looked real and powerful to me.

The movie is fascinating in many ways--it has great acting, especially by Jenny Jaffe, and it doesn't shy away from presenting the heartrending difficulties a family faces when they are raising a child with this disability.

My compliments to director Grillo, and to Taylor Richardson, who plays Glory, the child with autism. Grillo makes the action real, including showing us what Glory sees and hears as she confronts the frightening world around her. Taylor Richardson is an amazing actor. She doesn't drop out of character for a moment. She has autism, and she doesn't let you forget it.

We saw this film at the wonderful Dryden Theatre as part of the High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, NY. It will work well on the small screen.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Do something good, it's gonna echo back in you

10/10
Author: Nursafwah Tugiman from Sydney, Australia
30 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've been longing to watch AnnaSophia Robb to act something like this. She's the girl that I remembered acting in The Carrie Diaries and Race to Witch Mountain. Certainly, Jack of the Red Hearts will gave her the promising career. I just love her acting here, a lawbreaker and then turns into someone that has a big heart and a sense of responsibility to her sister and Glory, the autistic child.

Her character as a lost teenager who seems clueless about the future and want things like "right here, right now" and couldn't care the consequences were really depicting the struggle of most teenagers. It is true, the best teacher in life is by experienced.

This is a kind of movie that may makes you think after you watched it. Based on my reading, if we do good to others, we will only feel good within ourselves. It means, the virtue of doing good it's not only impacting the person who receive the kindness, but the givers will feel it the most. It'll change themselves to be a better person.

Charity or volunteerism works may altered the problematic teenager to be a better person and ease their transition to be a young adult.

In overall, every characters in this movie worked out well. Not a single wasted scene in this movie. Certainly, this is a kind of movie that will makes your heart kinda heavy and really feel the struggle of the characters in this movie.

I really enjoy this movie. 10/10!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Focus on Autism

6/10
Author: Larry Silverstein from United States
3 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before writing this review, I did some research on the film's background to try and get a better understanding of how it was all formulated. I was not aware of director Janet Grillo's critically acclaimed 2011 movie "Fly Away", which also focused on a severely autistic child.

Here in this film, Grillo, who's the mother in real-life of a severely autistic boy, combines with first-time screenwriter Jennifer Deaton, who is the aunt of an autistic child, to produce this movie, which illustrates the deep difficulties and stresses of coping with severe autism and its effects on the family unit.

Certainly not an easy watch, the plot elements stretch credibility to the brink as well, but it does have a solid cast and some strong performances to boot. The charismatic actress AnnaSophia Robb leads the way here as Jack (Jacquelyn), who's a petty criminal with a long rap sheet. In order to prove she's an employed "solid citizen", she lies and manipulates her way into being hired as a companion to 11-year-old Glory, with the goal of eventually getting custody of Jack's younger sister who's now in foster care.

Taylor Richardson gives an outstanding performance as Glory, who's a severely autistic girl, and Famke Janssen and Scott Cohen are excellent, as well, as Glory's loving but frazzled parents, Kay and Mark. You might guess, at this point, that despite Jack having absolutely no therapeutic background they'll eventually be some kind of bond that develops between Glory and Jack.

Overall, I would say this is not the type of film to watch if you're just looking for an escape flick, as it can be quite the intense and uncomfortable drama. However, the movie can offer some very good performances and can also be quite moving, at times, despite its credibility gap.

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