The Memory Keeper's Daughter (TV Movie 2008) Poster

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Memory Keeper's Daughter- My Down Syndrome's Child Keeper ***1/2
edwagreen15 April 2008
Dermot Mulroney and Emily Watson are appealing in this sad film.

It deals with a spur of the moment decision that has a lasting impact on the lives of several people throughout a 22 year period.

When his wife gives birth to twins, the boy is normal but the girl has Down's Syndrome. In a moment of misery, Mulroney tells his wife that the girl died in childbirth. He gives the baby to Nurse Watson with the instructions for her to bring the child to a home. When Watson sees the conditions in the home, she flees with the baby. Meeting a stranger in a snowstorm, she runs off to Pittsburgh with the baby and weds.

The film shows that the "Down Child" had a perfectly normal life whereas the boy along with Mulroney and his unfaithful wife, encounter nothing but misery along the way.

We should realize that it would take a death for everything to come out and this is exactly what occurs.

Watson is just wonderful as the compassionate, understanding nurse who gave so much of herself to the child.

This was a wonderful film and should not be missed.
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I loved it - I loved it - I loved it!
davidtraversa-114 May 2011
Yes I loved it. I picked it up (the film) just because Emily Watson was in it. I haven't seen many of her pictures, maybe 4 or 5, but then, they were all very good films, and I consider her such a fine actress that to see her name prompted my decision to rent this film. I suppose that after 30 films or so where she has been appearing, the fact that she is no beauty queen, made her come to her senses and realize that the best action for her in the movies was to be a natural, plain, excellent actress (my speculation, probably not hers). She bet on that and she won. I'm sure she worked more than many pretty faces known today forgotten tomorrow. This film is excellent. Everything in it works --I just found out that it was a made for TV production, a thing I never noticed while watching it (another point for never reading reviews before watching a movie). From the acting to the technical, no complains. The plot touches on a very delicate subject and it treats it superbly well. The unfolding of the original problem grows more and more out of any possible previous consideration, as much as a snowball rolls down the hill gathering more snow and becoming so huge that eventually will crush against the first firm obstacle in its way, as it was the case in this poignant story. The last scene is an overwhelming tear jerker, but then, a high class one, perfectly suited as a conclusion to the whole movie. Do not miss it!!
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OK...pretty good
kennyv111111 December 2008
I'm not sure how the 1 out of ten made the top comments, considering the movie is rated 6.4 at this time, but c'mon IMDb? It was a touching story. Not great, but certainly not a 1. It's kind of embarrassing that this rating somehow made their top review. A one? Someone has to filter out these kinds of ratings. There's really no basis for such a bad rating, and the average score undoubtedly backs that statement up. I don't mean to rant about it, but I can't help but feel that someone has to be held accountable for misleading the potential viewer, and I have to make this rant at least ten lines, so I'm trying to do what I can to make that happen. I think I just did it. Thanks.
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Loved it!
secret000912 April 2008
I am always happy when books i read turn out to be made into movies. IT makes me feel special..because i know everything that is supposed to happen.

I only learn about this movie last week Saturday when much to my surprise, a sideline ad said "The memory keeper's daughter Saturday @ 9". Of course i had to see it, and i waited and waited and finally i saw it tonight.

I haven't read the book since the first time i did which was sometime in the ending of 2006 to the beginning of 2007. I may not be clear on the exact movements of the characters but i get the gist and to me, it was a good movie. Phoebe's character was well play, but it would have been nice to see someone else play the older phoebe. Paul's character at age 18, wasn't exactly the image i thought Paul would look like but he became cuter at 22.

The book was good and this movie was equal to it, for me at least. I'm happy it came out, and honestly for a lifetime movie, i thought it was great. There was a few minor set backs, but it was a good movie!
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good movie, could have been better
Kristinartist7918 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
spoilers for movie and book They changed a lot from the book, but it was a good movie. They changed the way Norah learned about her daughter except that she found out after David passed away. Also, in the movie, they ended it after Norah and her son met the daughter, and there was nothing to indicate that she would still have a relationship with her mother and trin, whereas in the book they went on after they met, and even though Norah was living in Europe, without her daughter (who understandably did not want to move to Europe with her) she was still going to visit her and be a part of her life. (Don't forget they they could afford to fly her to visit regularly). And her bother moved close by to his sister. I guess the movie had to edit a lot, but the ending was unemotional; it was just like they met, excepted it and it was over; I mean I guess they figured it was implied that she would be a part of their life after that. In the movie, Carolyn's husband seemed more loving; I didn't really like his character in the book, pushing Carolyn into putting her daughter in a group home, before they were both ready because he didn't want to have the responsibility of raising her anymore. Sure he was right, but he was just too insensitive about it; he never once said that he would miss her or that they could still be a part of her life. He did address the issue of her moving into a group home, but he was kinder about it; he wasn't all, I want to travel the world and leave her in a home. The story line was a valuable lesson about how a decision made at a spur of the moment could ruin the life of yourself and the people around you. They portrayed David as a decent man who made a very bad decision that ruined his families life and could have ruined Pheabes life. Sure Carolyn's taking the baby might not have been purely a selfless act, as she really wanted a baby, but her life was a lot better because of her love for that baby. She could not hold the baby in her arms and leave her in that horrible place, which showed her kindness and love for that child. Sure, she could have told Norah who probably would have kept the baby, but she was caught in the middle and also, she did not know what the end results of that would be. So while she might not have been totally selfless, she obviously had the child's best interest at heart. The fact that she loved David might have influenced her to want to help him, but in the end, she did what was best for the baby. In the movie, David seemed to barely notice her. Actually in the book they implied that he did show some interest in her, but never acted upon it and it was never explained why and why he chose Norah instead of her. The movie does not even get that the fact that Carolyn loved David, just that one part where she told him he loved her, during that interaction where he was just insensitive saying, "What did I have to do with that?" In the book he was more sensitive and kind about the issue. They also addressed the issue of people with Down Syndrome getting married, but I felt they were too one sided on the issue; they just showed Carolyn say no and ended it from there, I felt it should have been more controversial. I mean Carolyn did a great job raising Pheabe to be independent and smart, but it seemed she did not have any confidence in her, maybe she was overprotective because she loved her. When Carolyn was saying she would be raising another baby if her daughter had a child, it seemed to me like she was not giving her any credit (or herself credit for how well she raised her daughter). People with mild mental retardation are able to get married and sometimes raise a child, often better than people without a disability.
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You know you're in trouble when...
ecjones195115 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
a novel has a reading group study guide at the back. It's as if the author or publisher knows that the novel itself isn't strong enough to merit lively discussion without prompts or cues.

That appendix of Kim Edwards's "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" provided a handy script for the Lifetime movie adaptation. But it makes a big gaffe, and it's a doozy: the title character and her brother are almost incidental!

I read the book to the end mainly because I found Caroline Gill to be such a very strong, very compelling character. I never pictured Emily Watson in the role, although she is superb, given what she has to work with. But what is an actress of Watson's caliber doing in a middling TV movie anyway?

Dermot Mulroney, as David Henry, is doomed from the start. In the book the reader doesn't so much feel what David is going through as he is told.

The script doesn't bring the character any more to life, and Mulroney is not actor enough to fill in the blanks, nor to overcome the ghastly work by the makeup department in his final scenes.

In the book and movie, David's wife Norah is used as a coat hanger over which to drape issues afflicting the disillusioned housewife: suspicion, booze, affairs, a time-killing job and self-absorption. In the thankless role, Gretchen Mol follows Spencer Tracy's advice; she hits her marks and doesn't bump into the furniture.

Oh, well. There have been far worse books and far worse movies made from them. The novel "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" touches on so many issues that it explores only a few of them very thoroughly. The movie wisely cuts out many a subplot and yet it still feels long, sluggish and predictable. It's too bad that Lifetime Network, which has a huge following, doesn't spend a little more coin and effort making better movies from better stories.
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Musical Score?
shimmer76513 April 2008
Does anyone know the name of the song that Paul is playing on the guitar when the family is vacationing at the beach???

I really enjoyed the book, but I wasn't entirely thrilled with the way the movie turned out. The book kept me turning the pages... I really thought that the movie didn't portray the struggle that Caroline went through with Phoebe growing up and her passion for her as a mother.

It really only touched on many of the aspects of the book and in my opinion the movie was sort of a quick synopsis of the book. The acting was OK... not Oscar-worthy or anything, just OK.

It was, however, entertaining, but I'm glad I read the book first!
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'In Camera"
gradyharp12 October 2008
THE MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER in the form of a novel by Kim Edwards was a highly successful bestseller and probably was featured in more reading groups than any other novel during its circulation. So what happened when the novel became a made-for-television movie? Perhaps it is the below mediocre screenplay (oops!, teleplay!) by John Pielmeier that consistently galumphs along in an awkward pedestrian fashion removing all sense of credibility to the story. Perhaps it is the cut and paste direction by Mick Jackson that misses the pacing and character delineation. Perhaps it suffers from the cinematography of an uncredited source or the 'liquid tears' musical score by Daniel Licht. For whatever of these (or all of these) reasons, this novel-to-film survives because it does make a good case for educating the public about the capabilities of those born with Down Syndrome. And for that it is worthy of attention.

Dr. David Henry (Dermot Mulroney), a successful orthopedic doctor, is married to the beautiful Norah (Gretchen Mol) and their lives are becoming changed by their pregnancy. On a stormy winter night in Kentucky Norah goes into labor and the Henry's rush to a nearby clinic where David delivers his wife (the doctor is caught in a snowstorm) with the assistance of his old friend, nurse Caroline Gill (Emily Watson). After the delivery of a perfect boy child (Paul) Norah continues to be in labor and (surprisingly...) delivers an unexpected (!) twin girl. David and Caroline immediately recognize that the little girl (Phoebe) is a 'mongoloid' (this is before the use of the term Down Syndrome) and David, having a history of losing a little sister because of a birth defect) decides to send Phoebe to an asylum for the mentally challenged: Caroline is to make the delivery and Norah is told the second twin died at birth.

Caroline follows instructions, sees the conditions of the 'home' where Phoebe is to be deposited, shrinks in horror, and decides to keep the child. Aided by a friendly trucker, Caroline changes her solitary existence and mothers Phoebe, finding a new life in her trucker's Pittsburgh. Norah insists on a formal funeral for Phoebe - a fact that deeply disturbs David's psyche, and the Henry's life goes on with only the one child Paul, leaving submerged pains about the lack of Phoebe's presence. Norah gifts David with a camera ('peoples lives are like a camera, that's where they live - in a room captured by a moment') and David becomes obsessed with photography. Norah grieves, drinks, and loses David's attention, while David traces Phoebe's existence with Caroline - sending money and letters to Pittsburgh. Paul (Tyler Stentiford to Jamie Spilchuk) grows up, discovers his mother's infidelities and is angered about his father's lack of communication and understanding, and decides to fulfill his goal of becoming a musician, and off to Juilliard he goes. Meanwhile Phoebe (Krystal Hope Nausbaum) has matured into a very highly adapted young girl, and the manner in which the broken marriage of the Henrys happens and the healing atmosphere of Phoebe's and Paul's lives coupled with the courage that has supported Caroline Gill's struggle to gain acceptance in the world for those born with Down Syndrome forms the conclusion of the film.

The cast of well-known actors tries hard, but only Emily Watson is able to resurrect a credible character from this squishy script. Jamie Spilchuk gives evidence of a young actor with much promise. Dermot Mulroney and Gretchen find it difficult to mold empathetic characters form the corny lines they are given to deliver. The film is a mess, but the message about acceptance of Down Syndrome children and adults is an important one. Grady Harp
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great film
clairelouise-ridgway13 November 2009
I first saw this film today 12th November 09, and liked it. I felt sorry for the mother who is told that her baby daughter had died but the husband didn't want a down syndrome child, thinking that she might no live to adulthood, as some didn't back then but to just tell the nurse to take her to a home is a bit sad he could have taken a chance, as so many children like that are loving.. at the least the nurse gave her a good home, but it left him feeling guilty for over, 20 years to what he has done. but his wife wanted more children and he didn't I suppose he was frightened that another child would end up like his daughter.. over all this is a great movie and shows the viewers what it was like in the 1960s to have a down syndrome child.
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Lifetime Channel worthy but not much more.....
kiwilliams-125 December 2008
Great book, poorly done movie. Cheesy performances and contrived situations make this movie a sentimental bore-fest. Flat and uninspired work from most of the actors leaves this film in the After School Special category. No doubt there is a lot of talent to be tapped in this cast and crew but something went horribly wrong The very talented Gretchen Mol attempts to pull this film out of the mire but even she can't seem to rise above the silly dialogue. Feels like everyone just phoned it in. Even the makeup (Mulrooney ages 20 years over the course of the film) looks amateurish and crude. Don't waste your time on this clunker.... go read the book.
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No, no, the palm trees, no no no!
npernell12 April 2008
Who is minding the store here? How could any producer/network executive/director let a crew stick the skeeziest fakest plastic palm trees in film history in the sands of a wintry Canadian beach and try to fob it off on us as the tropics? Those trees were to real palm trees what a pink tinsel K-Mart Christmas tree is to real fir. And who let Dermot Mulroney go in front of the camera with painted-on grey hair that wouldn't have passed muster in a high school play? And didn't any of the geniuses doing quality control on this thing think to correct the (excellent) Canadian actor when he said gaz instead of gas? Everybody involved with this plodding slug of a "movie"--writer, director, actors--has done not just good but brilliant work elsewhere. Paced way too fast between events and deadly slow within them, devoid of any emotion except the obvious, expository and contrived--maybe this only seems like one of Lifetime's worst movie because of all the Red Carpet hype with which it was presented. And I'm saying this as somebody who love Lifetime. What gives, folks?

All of that said, a certain actress's work at a certain critical turn in the movie (and if you've seen it you'll know exactly what I'm talking about) was so brilliant that the movie would have gotten a 10 from me if that was the whole movie. Unfortunately it was only about five seconds of it.
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Great Movie!
janed7422 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this by chance while channel surfing the TV, due to being fond of the actors Emily Watson and Dermott Mulroney. The story and characters develop slowly, but it was really well done so I kept watching. I can't imagine how I would react in the same situation but you can understand Pauls decision. The actors gave their characters compassion and sensitivity, the music was lovely, and storyline excellent and well developed. I would recommend the movie. YOu could say the main character was fighting his demons, and harboring secrets from his lovely wife,but this is never a good idea, as they fall apart eventually.
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Acting and directing is phoned in
loschavez17 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It was understood this would be a sorely depressing film, considering the unpleasant subject. I never read this novel, but any screenplay it contained would have tended toward low expectations. Even in this era of cloned flops.

--Spoilers coming: Here we see nothing uplifting, not even the growing children. I've known some wonderful kids with Down's Syndrome. A sweet Downs child is usually more than able to capture your heart by sheer innocence and good will.

Here the daughter Phoebe has that responsibility thrust on her because all the other characters are dreadful. They only convey grief and/or ignorance of the subject matter. Ostensibly because this novel all occurs in unenlightened days when Downs babies were referred to as "Mongoloid idiots." But in this plot there can be no excuses. Because her father, this "Memory Keeper" is a practicing physician. Yet, from panic he condemns his baby girl to an institution that seems nothing more than a zoo. Emily Watson's role is supposed to show love and compassion. She's this plot's lynch-pin. But what she acts out is deadpan worry. Both the mother who was deceived, and her boy the twin brother, are played with less nuance than her Downs-afflicted daughter emotes.

Indeed, she carries on cheerfully. The plot, however, sags in all the important places. Except for some tearful expressions by Mom and Dad in early development, hardly any acting of significance is filmed. IMHO, the director of this movie ought to bow out of the profession and let others take the blame for depressing, bad films.
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Your first clue is "Lifetime Presents..."
SoulxSide12 April 2008
Based on a fairly bland "best seller," this film - like most other Lifetime movies - played out more like a reenactment than an actual movie. The only difference here was that Meredith Baxter wasn't in it. The women in this don't age even over a span of like 20 years and the acting in general is pretty bad.

The characters in this were all cliché and one-dimensional. The story was of the cheesy nature. I wouldn't recommend it, but it's the kind of thing that people who loved the book and people who watch that network all the time will think is great. I only watched it because my girlfriend wanted to see it so she wouldn't have to read the book her sister loaned to her. It wasn't made for someone like me - my girlfriend cried a little at the end though, so she didn't think it was as terrible as I did.
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Another Stunning Performance by Emily Watson
JohnLeeT13 January 2013
Giving one of the most amazing performances of her incredible career, Emily Watson brings compassion, love, and beauty to this otherwise mediocre film. As is almost always the case, Watson rises above the material and essays a character that in unforgettable in its depth, realism, and passion. There is no debate as to Emily Watson being the finest actor of our time and this film serves as another showcase for her astounding talent and artistry. In even minor roles, Watson captures a film and makes it her own to the extent that other actors in a piece strive to give exceptional performances themselves. Anyone who truly appreciates cinema and recognizes genius when they see it will see Emily Watson's name in the credits and make a point of seeing the film. Watson is a divine gift to any director and an artist that touches the very souls of audiences whenever she graces the screen with yet another masterful moment of cinematic greatness.
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not enough tension
SnoopyStyle30 June 2016
It's 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. David Henry (Dermot Mulroney) drive his pregnant wife Norah (Gretchen Mol) to the hospital. He and nurse Caroline Gil (Emily Watson) deliver healthy son Paul. They are surprised by twin Phoebe who turns out to have Down Syndrome. He lies to Norah that she died and gives the baby to nurse Gil. He instructs Gil to put her in an institution expecting her to die but Gil decides to raise the baby herself due to witnessing the draconian conditions.

It's a Lifetime TV movie. It tackles an interesting subject and a girl with Down Syndrome gets to act. These are solid actors but the story doesn't have enough tension. I don't find the Henrys that compelling. Their part of the story feels meandering. I like Gil's side better but that isn't the most dramatic either. I would rather have a bigger time skip like 12 years later. The story could easily pick up when the two sides reconnect. It's more compelling that way because the danger of discovery is heightened.
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About Acceptance Of People With Down Syndrome
Desertman8428 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, The Memory Keeper's Daughter is an emotional TV drama dealing with a family secret that eventually destroys a family. The film's cast includes Dermot Mulroney as David, Gretchen Mol as Norah, and Emily Watson as Caroline. The adolescent and adult Phoebe is played by Krystal Hope Nausbaum, an actress with Down syndrome.

David and Norah are the perfect couple.He is a highly regarded physician and she is his beautiful, young, blond wife. Unable to get his wife to the hospital during a blizzard, David delivers their twins himself. A boy is born first but the baby girl is has Down Syndrome. There's a saying that some doctors suffer from a God complex, and it would seem that David is one of them.Instead of sharing the news with his wife after she wakes up, he makes the decision that he will tell her that only their son survived. He orders his nurse Caroline to take his daughter to an institution. There is a feeling of unrest and uncertainty as the characters sense that something isn't quite right. Norah, who never got to say goodbye to her baby, has never been able to get closure and is in a constant state of grieving. David lives with the guilt of what he has done, but doesn't really think he did anything wrong. Even their son feels that something is missing from his life. Caroline, who had always been a loner, winds up having the most complete life. Defying David's orders, she takes the little girl, Phoebe, and runs away with her to raise the girl as her own.Over the next 25 years, his disabled daughter grows into a beautiful adult while David watches the rest of his family fall apart, knowing he can never reveal his darkest secret.

This TV movie offers some excellent acting by the leads. Watson in particular shows depth and compassion. To a certain extent, she is the moral compass of the film, but she also is its heart. The film is a far from being a great one but the message about acceptance of people with Down Syndrome - children and adults - is an important message to impart to viewers.
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Musical Score
molasses42014 March 2009
Someone asked about a song that the son was playing on the guitar...

It's called: "Romance: Juegos Prohibidos." The composer is an anonymous Spanish guitarist.

However, you can find the song on iTunes played by other musicians.

A few scenes later, Paul and his son are in the truck arguing about music and there's another song playing.

It follows the son as he's running on the beach.

It's called "Asturias" by Juan Quesada and it's on the Vicky Cristina Barcelona soundtrack.

From the little bit I saw of the movie, I really enjoyed the soundtrack! Wish it were available to buy.
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Deeply Moving Film With A Standout Performance
jlthornb519 May 2015
This is a beautifully made film and one of the most moving ever made due to an absolutely fantastic performance by the great actress Emily Watson. She is superb in this role and it is indeed another performance of a lifetime. Watson's powerful work in this motion picture is made electric by her simple beauty and mesmerizing eyes, eyes that say more in a glance than 50 pages of dialog. She is truly one of the great gifts to the screen and the camera loves her. Recognized as one of the finest actors of our time, Emily Watson proves once again and beyond any doubt with this performance that her talents are beyond description.
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