Every once in awhile a movie is made that expands truth and dispels misunderstandings of certain stereotypes. Forrest Gump. A Beautiful Mind. And now, Temple Grandin.
This fact-based made-for-HBO film stars Clare Daines as Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has changed the face of America's meat-packing industry and become one of the autism community's biggest advocates.
Temple was diagnosed with autism in the 1950s (I think) at age four, at a time with the disease that now impacts one in 110 children was considered rare and extremely misunderstood. Temple's mother, portrayed by Julia Ormond, was told that the only choice was to institutionalize her mother. Instead, Julia worked diligently to teach her daughter to communicate and to push her to live a "normal" life despite deep fears, sensory issues, socialization difficulties and ostracism.
Temple's high school science teacher recognized her beautirul and amazing mind, encouraging her to appreciate the uniqueness of the gift that she'd been given through her autism. In the long run, she did just that, using her special abilities to understand cattle to rework the nation's slaughter houses, creating a much more humane system in the long run.
The film was a beautiful and honest look at this amazing woman -- and young girl -- who viewers grew to love and admire despite her unusual behaviors. Clarie Danes' peformance is Emmy worthy, capturing the nuances of Temple's autism, from the most hard-to-watch aspects to the sweet humorous and touching moments. The director, too, did a wonderful job helping viewers understand the full experiential life of people with autism, who have extreme sensory issues.
As the mother of an autistic child, many of the aspects naturally hit home. But I was also enlightened through the director's use of images and sounds to enhance the sensory aspects of Temple's life. (As a sidenote, in here various speaking engagments, Temple has stressed how societ has underestimated the sensory aspect of autism.) Most of all, however, I was encouraged, seeing this remarkable woman's life and her amazing mind.
Definitely a powerful movie well worth renting.
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