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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Family Pictures (1993)

In 1983, a photographer (Kyra Sedgwick) returns home to visit her now divorced parents (Anjelica Huston, Sam Neill) and as she looks at photos of her family (which included 5 brothers and sisters), she reflects on how her severely autistic brother's (Jamie Harrold) existence shaped the fortunes of her family. Based on the novel by Sue Miller (THE GOOD MOTHER) and directed by Philip Saville. The film encompasses a large chunk of time, 1948 through 1983. Certainly autism in the 1950s and 1960s was looked at differently than in the 2000s and the film unblinkingly looks at the difficulties of taking care of a severely autistic child and later an autistic adult and how it drives his parents apart. The mother focuses on the child at the expense of her other children who feel left out and the husband can never bring himself to fully embrace the child. The questions arises is how different would the family's life have been without the boy and did his existence serve as a match that lit a fire that would have happened anyway? I've not read Miller's novel but I suspect it might have read better than it plays out here which tends to be soap opera-ish. But there are two performances that hold the film together: Huston's powerful mama lion who seems to live for drama in her life and Neill's dispassionate father who just wants everything "normal". With Dermot Mulroney and Janet Laine Green.  

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