Monday, September 9, 2013

196 of 1001 Movies: Children of a Lesser God (1986)

Why are the women directors all so far from the 80's? Anyways, Randa Haines has put together quite an intriguing, emotionally, stirring movie. William Hurt is a strong actor in whatever he does, and while he might be very character actor in nature, I could see him being the Ryan Gosling of his day. He has great chemistry with Marlee Matlin in this very insightful romance that also immerses you in the world of the deaf.  I hadn't saw a movie like it before, and appreciated the unique plot line.

Summary: James arrives as a new speech teacher at a school for the deaf. Once there he meets some hesitant students who have their own reasons for remaining silent. There is also a janitor who works the school who gets James' attention. He is also determined to get her to speak despite her lifelong stance against speaking and just being her own silent world. James falls in love with her in the middle of his pursuit though, but Sarah is hesitant to get into a relationship unless he can accept her comfortableness not speaking.

Acting: So far I've really enjoyed William Hurt as an actor. As James Leed he brings his usual best, and I like how the roles are reverse. James isn't the mysterious, troubled one, as most male characters are portrayed. Instead it is Sarah who is the more mysterious, troubled one, giving a female character a more complex role than they usually are given. I liked how the reverse was portrayed. Marlee Matlin was strong and convincing in her role. I think the chemistry was great too despite the barrier they had in speaking to each other. I thought the scene between the two when they are having sex and he just wants her to say his name is so powerful. It shows how far she is willing to go to hold to her belief of not speaking. It helps that Matlin is really deaf as well because her role feels so authentic.

Filming:  There isn't anything too spectacular in the way the movie is shot. The location and the time of season they chose is very pretty, and with the impending fall it was perfect to watch. You have lots of falling leaves and the season of Thanksgiving. It also compares well with how the relationship is so fragile. The relationship has plenty of rough spots to diminish the 80's romantic stereotype. The thing that detracts from this movie the most though is the soundtrack. The score is really badly done, and has this high pitched noise that rips through the ear. The people in the movie might be deaf, but the viewer might not be.

Plot: I like how the plot really tries to avoid being cheesy. This couple has a fare amount of obstacles to overcome and the director doesn't downplay that. It is uncertain what will become of this couple, and I like how not all the students can be easily changed to have their perspectives on being deaf renewed into something different. It goes down a realistic path of what people are like and that change isn't sudden are always occurring.

Children of a Lesser God is one of the better romances I've seen. It has a lot of romantic scenes fused in, and I like how it still tries to be real and provides plenty of scenes of friction. The one biggest detractor might be some lame scenes involving the students and the score. It just didn't fit with the tone and didn't sound like they had a huge budget to do it better.

Rating 7 of 10.

Children of a Lesser God (1986) on IMDb

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