I'll confess that when I found out that Claire Danes was cast as Dr.Grandin,I was skeptical. A very pretty actress known more for playing sort of "Damsel in distress" roles,I couldn't immediately meld that image with that of the plain,can-do autistic woman by concept. But this movie set me right.
Even though this is literally a biopic,it still seems as much concerned with the nuts and bolts of her ideas and contributions to agriculture and the study of autism(most movies where autism is a topic only choose to deal with the character who is afflicted and how it affects the ones who are "normal",with precious little if anything offered about the person with the affliction)as it is about her. Besides Danes' bravura performance as Grandin(and I must say that physically,Miss Danes' eyes actually ARE perfect for the role. Just take a look at a photo of both women!),much credit goes to director Mick Jackson and the editing,which is able to give about as good a sampling of what Professor Grandin's thought processes are as can be done in a "one-shot" movie can give.
Not a real populous cast(i.e. much of the people involved are mostly "non-entities": people who have contact with Temple but have either negative or no direct impact on her life),but the support is largely patient and fit in well--David Straithairn as a kindly science teacher who sort of sets Miss Grandin on her way as a youth;Catherine O'Hara as the aunt living in Arizona who goes out of her way to accommodate the title character and Julia Ormond as Temple's strong-willed(if perhaps sometimes hard-headed),educated mother--and aid the movie along its stated path.
Perfect for HBO(I frankly have no real idea how this movie could EVER be sold as a large screen offering,and that's NOT a knock on this film at all!),it's running time moves like a breeze and,if you are in any way engaged by what you see in it,will want to see it more times and maybe even do some real digging about the main subject(who is currently in her mid-sixties,still a tenured professor at Colorado State University),either or both by internet research and her numerous writings. I suppose maybe why this doesn't get a higher rating by me is because it still feels like more could've been covered on this pallet and that they stopped themselves a bit short(don't THINK I'm giving much of anything away here),otherwise a very rewarding film!