First Run Features // 2009 // 103 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 13th, 2010
Talking back to autism.
Director Fridik Thor Fridriksson tackles on of the most perplexing, dismaying disorders currently facing children the world over: autism. Its cause a mystery, autism as a field of study yields more questions than answers, and Fridriksson explores the vast landscape of the science and the treatment with a mother as a guide.
That mother is Margret, who has a ten-year-old son named Keli. He suffers from a severe case of autism and Margret is determined to dig up as much information on the enigmatic ailment as possible. Her travels (as narrated by Kate Winslet) take her all over the world, meeting with doctors, researchers and teachers.
The root causes of autism aren't explored deeply (and thankfully, there's no mention of vaccines), as the focus of the documentary shifts largely to the teaching and treatment alternatives. Which is a great choice by Fridriksson, because the programs and approaches he highlights are nothing short of invigorating.
Autism is brutal because it robs children of so much, forcing them to play by a different, foreign set of rules. Worse, it acts as a boundary between the child and the parent (many children with autism are so hyper-sensitive they can't even be cradled or comforted). What A Mother's Courage provides is hope -- hope that with some creative and innovative methods, an autistic child can express himself, communicate, and relate to the outside world.
My day job finds me working in the human services industry, where autism has become the hottest of hot topics; with one out of 150 children affected by the disorder -- a staggering statistic -- it is no surprise that this has become such a flashpoint.
This film succeeds because it doesn't dwell on the negative, the doomsday scenario. There is encouragement to be found, knowledge that there are opportunities out there for parents and children to navigate such a complex illness. A Mother's Courage isn't Pollyannish about the reality of autism -- but Fridriksson isn't content with despair.
This is must-view for anyone interested in the subject matter.
The DVD is functional, featuring a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, some dodgy surround sound options (stereo and 5.1) and a text-only list of autism resources.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Run Features
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated