Temple Grandin (2010)

I recently heard an interview with Temple Grandin, and this movie was mentioned. I had never seen nor heard of it, but she was a pretty fascinating interview, so I set off to find the movie to watch. I found that it was an HBO made for TV movie, and TV movies would put me off right away if it hadn't been HBO. HBO has done some fantastic things with their TV series and movies, so I had high hopes going in.

The movie stars Claire Danes as the lead character, Temple, who has significant autism and all of the baggage that goes with that. After hearing the interview and the strange speech patterns and mannerisms, I can say definitively that Claire's take on her is spot on. The whole thing is a bit strange in actually seeing it play out and reminds me of watching Devil's Knot. Like that movie, you have an actor who is trying to play someone who is living, and you can actually see the real life person in near present-day video. I guess, in that respect, it's also like Hitchcock.

It's hard to make the quirks and oddness of Temple seem relatable rather than simply a curiosity or cautionary tale. Instead, the movie is very well written and directed, and they let us understand what makes her tick (not literally) and you get to understand that there are a lot of benefits to someone seeing things very differently from the rest of us. It's not an unusual lesson to learn - that everyone has something to offer the world, but it's a point well made.

The wardrobe, sets, and all the supporting cast are background for Claire's performance, and they are all damn good background. From Cathrine O'Hara as the loving aunt to David Strathairn as the science teacher who gives her focus and encourages her, everyone fills in their parts with seeming ease and with a mindful effort to not detract from Claire's honestly fantastic performance.

Possibly more interesting than the actual story of how she progresses through life is the strange and highly ethical way she thinks about the treatment of cattle. She's very pragmatic when it comes to why they exist - they live to be eaten - but that doesn't mean we can't try to treat them well and make their lives a little less crappy than they need to be. Why stab at them with cattle prods if you can just lead them around in a circle, which is what comforts them?

Direction was very good
Acting was superb
Costumes were very good
Editing was very good
Story was good
Dialog was very good

Bottom Line: An intriguing look at an intriguing woman.



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