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Ordinary People (1980)

1 rating: 5.0
Drama movie directed by Robert Redford

Robert Redford made his Oscar-winning directorial debut with this highly acclaimed, poignantly observant drama (based on the novel by Judith Guest) about a well-to-do family's painful adjustment to tragedy. Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland play … see full wiki

Director: Robert Redford
Genre: Drama
1 review about Ordinary People (1980)

Extraordinary Classic

  • May 26, 2006
"Ordinary People" is a great movie classic. It develops the story beautifully with both subtley and directness through scenes that crescendo to a powerful climax and conclusion. The acting is marvelous; the directing and editing are masterful; and the story (derived from a Judith Guest novel, worthy of reading separately before or after viewing the movie) is an emotional gold mine.

The story involves a respectable, but dysfunctional upper-middle class suburban Chicago family, the Jarretts, who are recovering from the aftermath of their eldest son's death. Conrad (Timothy Hutton) recovered from the same boating accident that killed Buck, his brother. He has to work out the results of that accident and still is surviving emotionally after the storm's wake, including a suicide attempt and a stay in a mental hospital. Ordinary living has become nearly unbearable for him, but he has the support of a loving, but helpless father, Calvin (Donald Sutherland) and a lack of support from a selfish and uncaring mother, Beth (Mary Tyler Moore). Conrad finds himself adrift until he heeds his father's advice to seek help from a psychiatrist, Dr. Burger (Judd Hirsch).

"Ordinary People" provides a symphonic build-up of emotions and revelations that are interesting and cathartic. The performances are sensational. Timothy Hutton justifiably won best supporting actor for the anguish, understated and boiling over, he created as Conrad. Mary Tyler Moore has the performance of her lifetime, and Donald Sutherland, never nominated, shows ingenious subtlety as the father. Judd Hirsch and M. Emmit Walsh are also excellent, as well as some of the natural performances by the other supporting actors. Robert Redford has his directorial debut, which garnered him best director Oscar.

"Ordinary People" is either loved or hated. Some criticize the movie as mere melodrama, but it is so well crafted, it is hard to reconcile, except to say that you need to be reasonably sensitive to appreciate this movie and how it unfolds. There is still resentment regarding their Oscar sweep of this movie. "Raging Bull," another Best Picture nominee, is another worthy classic, but a different sort of film. "Ordinary People" is a one of a kind movie made with a sensitivity and brilliance that few films ever accomplish.

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