An adopted woman decides to find her birth mother. Her search leads her to a shocking discovery that she has to face and why her upbringing was not an easy one.Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I stumbled across the opening of "Deep in my Heart" one afternoon on the True Movie channel here in the UK. I think it was at the end of a recording I made of another movie. Anne Brancroft's monologue captivated me. I couldn't forget her character's story of how she was attacked as a young married woman, walking home late one night from a movie, the first night she left the house after having a baby, now four months old. "They said there must have been another man, and there was... his name was Elvis". I was also captivated by her character's proud statement that she wasn't just another Boston Irish... she was part French. It's unfortunate that the movie has a title that suggests it's sentimentalized and cliché ridden. What could have been a sensationalized, melodramatic "true life story" reveals the life of the child that was born after the attack, with sympathy for all the main characters. The series of monologues of each of Barbara Ann's mothers works well to give their viewpoints, reveal their characters, their hopes, and how each sought to do the best they could to give her a good life. The last monologues by Gloria Reuben as the adult Barbara Ann are poignant as they depict how she learns about her origins, finds her birth mother, comes to terms with her estranged adopted mother, and strives to come to terms with her heritage from her white biological family and the issues that affected the direction of her first years. My parents grew up in Boston in the 1930s and 1940s, and I often visited the city's neighborhoods and suburbs on family trips (I grew up in Florida, where my parents moved in the 1950s). "Deep in my Heart" reminded me of what the city was like when my cousins and I were young. Cara Buono's performance as the young Gerry made me cry. I was deeply moved by her courage to stand up to the racism of the era. I knew from my parents' stories of what happened to their old neighborhoods that many areas of Boston were torn apart by racism, riots, urban renewal, and manipulation by real estate sellers. My parents once drove through Roxbury with me during one of our visits and my father pointed out the areas that he knew as a child, that were once seen as well off and now were deprived and neglected.
I was riveted too by Lynn Whitfield's portrayal of Corrine and her love for her foster child. I felt deeply for her when she was denied the possibility of adopting Barbara Ann, and when Barbara Ann had to leave her care for adoption in Wisconsin. I found the social agency's thinking hard to understand. I suppose they believed that Barbara Ann would be better off with professionals as parents in the Midwest rather than living with other foster children in a poor family in Roxbury, an area that became known for crime and violence.
I felt for Alice Krige's Annalise, who wanted to give a loving home to a needy child. She was caring but was let down by her husband deserting her and their adopted child- Albert Schultz shows the husband's flaws and his inability to put the child's needs first without making him look like a complete jerk or a villain. I empathized with Annalise and Gloria Reuben's teenage Barbara Ann: I could see how Annalise struggled to make a better life for both of them, and how Barbara Ann, feeling lonely and abandoned, cold shouldered her, believing that the time Annalise spent studying and working was an indication of her indifference, and turned to her boyfriend for the love she missed, longing for Corrine.
The movie ends with a four handkerchief family reunion scene that does seem idealized- I wondered why Annalise was attending a reunion party of the Cummins family in Boston, when she and Barbara Ann hadn't communicated in decades. The highlighting of Barbara Ann's three mothers at the event is a little cheesy, especially at a gathering for the entire Cummins family.
But overall "Deep in My Heart" considers the difficult and complex issues of racism, the civil rights struggle, single mothers, discrimination of lower income families, and the changing attitudes towards them without allowing them to dominate the movie or allowing the characters to be determined simply by their response to them. I wish more of the movies based on real life stories would reflect their eras and the history behind him as respectfully and thoughtfully.
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