Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Temple Grandin Review

Temple Grandin

Cast: Claire Danes, David Strathiam.
Screenwriters: Christopher Monger, Merritt Johnson.
Director: Mick Jackson.

***’s out of 4

Claire Danes turns in an amazing performance as Temple Grandin. An Autistic woman who single handedly improved the cattle industry and saved them a huge amounts of money by designing a more humane slaughter house. The way her mind works is with pictures. Once she sees an object she can than view many multiple items and then recognize every single detail in less than one glance.

This story is set in the early sixties when Autism and its functions were first being discovered. At that time the only available treatment was to put them in an institution for the rest of their lives. Temple’s mother Eusatacia (Julia Ormand) refused to give up on her daughter and pushed her to continue her education. A process that has helped her achieve a master’s degree in animal science. Temple has also designed devices that are still being used today. Her Hugging machines which helps calm down certain autistics and her improvements on how cattle are being hearded have helped save livestock from accidentally being killed before they reach the slaughter house. There are the usual road blocks that try to stop our hero from achieving her goal, but like in all good bio pictures. It’s not only that she achieves them, but how she does it.

I have been a fan of Claire Danes ever since her break out role in “My So Called Life”. She has continued to be the supporting player in a lot of other movies, but she really hasn’t been the star of one until this movie. Her portrayal of Temple is a very accurate to how she sounds and behaves. Other actors including David Stathaim as her science teacher Professor Carlock also do a great job at conveying this world, but it’s Claire Danes who really puts us into the mind of this remarkable woman.

Director Mick Jackson (L.A.Story, Volcano) use of imagery is also very helpful in letting us know what goes inside the mind of one autistic person. There are a lot of great p.o.v. shots from Temple’s perspective when she thinks in terms of pictures. Most other movies about mental disease treat it as if it were some kind of a tragedy that becomes a triumph. In Temple’s case she was always a successful triumph. It just took some time for others to see it too.

(photo HBO films)