Saturday, March 24, 2012

Temple Grandin (2010)

If you had told me about a year and a half ago that my favorite film of all time would be an HBO television film, I don’t think I would’ve entirely believed you. Then, I saw the whimsical, magical, and heartbreaking film, Temple Grandin, and I believe.

This is a biopic about the life of Temple Grandin.  She doesn’t like to be touched, she can only eat pudding, yogurt, or Jell-O, she didn’t speak until she was four, and she has panic attacks, but she is super smart and is fascinated, and yet confused, by the world around her. “I don’t understand people,” Temple claims.  Her mother, Eustacia, is blamed for Temple’s condition, claiming that she had a lack of bonding with Temple.  However, she knows there’s something more to it than that. Temple spends one summer with her Aunt Anne that changes her life as she seeks out to pursue a career in animal husbandry.

Now, I have to be honest with you. The first couple minutes or so, I wasn’t really getting into it. I didn’t think it was bad or anything, but I just didn’t love it yet. Then, it gripped me and never let me go. I’ve never seen great filmmaking like this.  It is lovely to witness. The director, Mick Jackson, has an interesting track record. He directed L.A. Story and the science-fiction film, Volcano. I haven’t seen those films, but I am, now, tempted to. It’s not your average “disease-of-the-week movie.” It’s much, much more than that. It relies on pure emotion and beauty and not sappy clichés.

Also, Christopher Monger wrote a brilliant script. Of course, there is back-story about her childhood, as all biopics have. However, the back-story doesn’t come in to play until about 20 minutes after the beginning when you really know this character. He, also, has found a way to mix sad scenes with whimsical visuals and authentic humor. Sketchbook-type drawings are a big key used to show us her mind. However, it works coherently with the story and is not forced or tacked on. 

Also, the performances are strong. The best I have ever seen in a movie. Claire Danes is simply fantastic in the title role. It is the best female performance in a film I have seen since Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball. It is astounding how much she resembles Temple Grandin. It is not a performance. It is pure embodiment.  Besides that, she proves to us that she is one of our most underrated actresses in Hollywood that hopefully will have a good long career. We feel her joy, her sadness, and her stress and we root for her all the way. 

Julia Ormond is fantastic as Temple’s mom. Once again, we feel her pain, her satisfaction, and her frustration. Also, Catherine O’Hara as Temple’s aunt and David Strathairn as Dr. Carlock, a teacher of Temple’s, play their parts extraordinarily as well.

On a scale of zero to four stars, Temple Grandin gets four stars! It is the best film I have ever seen and deserved all seven Emmys it received and them some.

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