When Ruth Matthews finds that her young daughter has withdrawn from reality, she and a well-meaning doctor struggle to come to the aid of the child. But when conventional science appears unable to reach the little girl, Ru... more »th embarks on a journey within herself to unlock the mysteries that hold her daughter captive in this passionate and heartrending tale of a mother's love - and a family's determination to heal. Kathleen Turner, Tommy Lee Jones« less
"Is the little girl portrayed in this movie autistic, or isn't she? This is an important question to me as the father of an autistic child, because the entire middle of the movie contains one of the more detailed and realistic portrayals of childhood autism that I have seen. There are some lapses, to be sure, but the writers and producers clearly had autism in mind. This movie was made (1993) in an era when autism was much less well understood than it is now. At that time, autism was considered such a terrible diagnosis that some doctors preferred to make milder-sounded diagnoses such as "PDD." It is impressive that the professionals portrayed appear to be attempting to practice something resembling the Applied Behavorial Analysis methods which have since been proven the prime effective therapy for the disorder. Yet the movie then protrays a mother who resists professional help not on the basis of reasoned disagreement with a course of therapy, but denial that her daughter has a disorder at all, an attitude that can never work to the benefit of a child with a disability. Having presented a realistic portrayal of autism, the movie does a disservice to parents who are struggling with the realities of this disorder. First, it portrays a girl who suddenly displays profound features of autism at the age of 6. At the end, it portrays a complete miracle cure, validating the mother's stubborn resistance. Neither of these events occurs with autism. Autism almost always presents before the age or 2 when a child who seemed to be progressing normally begins to regress. And, except in our dreams, remission occurs only with long, hard and knowledgeable work. I suppose one could say "they never actually *said* she was autistic. It must have been some traumatic disorder that *seemed* like autism." Then why did they go out of their way to use autism as a dramatic device? My fear is that a parent facing the reality of a newly-recognized autistic child might use this movie as support to resist the therapy their loved one desperately needs. Good, even wonderful. outcomes are now possible for autism, but not through Hollywood mysticism."
A Movie about Hope and Motherhood!
Morgaine Swann, H.Ps. | 08/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This story is NOT about drugs or Autism. It's about a mother's journey to reach out to her daughter and the need to find healing after tragedy. It's a mystical and heart-warming story about a girl who withdraws into herself to reach out to her recently deceased father. Tommy Lee Jones is a court appointed child psychologist assigned to assess her mental condition. Yes, he works with Autistic children, but that's only part of his job. Kathleen Turner is the mother who can't deal with her husband's death, let alone her daughter's strange withdrawal. The child DOES NOT take any psychotropic drugs. She leads Turner and Jones through a mystical journey to find peace for her father's soul and heal the wounds of his loss for herself and her mother. A very spiritually uplifting tale."
Autism has no overnight cure, although I wish it did!
Teresa | Clovis, NM United States | 09/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I must agree with a previous reviewer, as I am also a parent of an autistic child, my daughter is four years old. The movie does portray many common autistic tendencies, especially similar to my daughter. Also the characters did a wonderful job, I really did enjoy the movie. I think the hardest part was at the end seeing their joy of a "cure", which is only in Hollywood. Yes progress can be made, we have had much success, but it is very hard work, patience and time involved with see it.The actress that played Sally did a wonderful job, and it was almost eerie that she and my daughter could be twins, you would definitely do a double-take.
I also agree that this movie could give parent false hope, and possible delay treatment that is so needed in these cases. I know how it is to be a parent in denial, but the sooner reality is faced the better it is for your autistic child. Kathleen Turner and Tommy Lee Jones, and all the cast did a tremendous job. As a parent trying to get a hold of anything to learn more about autism, I only wish they could have possibly showed another side of coping besides a "cure"."
This is not a movie about Autism
Terrence Webster-Doyle | Portland, ME. United States | 01/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a about a child disturbed by the death of her father and who is told that she should not cry about it and also that her father is in the moon, a fantasy created in the mind of the child trying to thereafter trying to reach him there. One reviewer thought it was about autism, which it was not. It seems that autism has become a generalization for anything people don't understand. The mother of the child doesn't accept the conventional methods of psychology and uses her own intelligence to "decode" the puzzle of the child's disturbance and succeeds to help her to come out of her fantasy of her father being on the moon where he went after he died. It is a wonderful portrayal of a mother who won't give up and sets out to look at her daughter's disturbance in a new light, using what could be called modern shamanism to recreate the dilemma where the child can see the futility of her actually being able to get to the moon to see her father. This movie is a must see!"
Juxtaposition of Mayan mythology and modern medicine
Morgaine Swann, H.Ps. | Eastern KY United States | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a movie about autism. Let it go.
**Spoilers!** This is a movie about a little girl who grows up around Mayan tradition, and who is taken away from that back to the States when her father is killed. A lot of the story takes place in memories, visions and dreams, so it only makes "sense" in the context of the Mayan teachings the little girl grew up with. It doesn't translate well to the late 20th Century USA - that's the whole point of the movie. It works in spite of the fact that none of the adults around this little girl have a clue what is happening, even though it's spelled out on the tapes of Sally and the old Mayan man.
She isn't autistic - she's in a trance, on a vision quest. When she and her mother work out the grief, she comes out of it. That's a natural result of such a journey. The ending is beautiful and poetic. The problem is that if you aren't familiar with shamanic traditions, or you don't pay close attention to what the child is hearing and seeing, you won't know what's happening. No one sums it up, and the people around the little girl never pick up on the symbols involved in her healing - cards, The Tower, The Moon- nor do they understand the process they've just gone through.
The child knew enough to heal herself in spite of the adults around her, and her mother facilitates this by following her own intuition in reaching the girl. It's a powerful story - highly recommended."