Posted Dec 09 2016
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Life, Animated - This Movie Rocks The Wonderful World Of Disney

Dir: Roger Ross Williams

Starring Owen Suskind, the Suskind Family, Disney Sidekicks

At the age of three, Owen Suskind seemed to fade from his family’s view, as a previously undiagnosed form of autism took over his life, leaving him unable to communicate, and all but impossible to reach.

At the age of seven however, something remarkable happened. Through repeated watching of Disney classics – on VHS noticeably – Owen found not only his voice, but the means by which he could understand and function in the world. It is – literally –a Disney miracle, and one that doc maker Williams captures in a genuinely moving manner, that (for the most part) sidesteps the sentimental trap that could be so easy to fall into here.

It helps that Owen himself –captured here on the cusp of graduation at the age of 23 – is such an engaging character. And extremely articulate – there are moments here where his honest turn of phrase cuts so deeply into his unique experience, that you can’t help but well up.

Full marks also to the director and all involved (the film is based in part on a book by Owen’s dad Ron, a journalist and exec producer here) for not turning this into a  "the power of movies” movie. It is – but the real power here lies in the people and their strength in dealing with such overwhelming and incredibly specific odds.

It may try a little too hard for a Mickey-conquers-all ending and leaves certain threads dangling. But you’ll never look at Simba reclaiming his birth-rite the same way again. (And full marks to Disney for allowing such liberal use of their highly copyrighted material throughout.) Impressive and sincerely heartfelt.

 

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