Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movie Review: Temple Grandin

I've always liked Claire Danes as an actress.  "My So-Called Life" was aimed right at my demographic when it was on TV; Baz Luhrman's "Romeo + Juliet" is still beautiful and amazing and heartbreaking to me (which is a wonderful testament to the power of the Bard as well, of course).

When I found out that she played Temple Grandin in a movie of the same name, I was perplexed, perhaps, but certainly willing to give it a go.  The cover, of her grinning awkwardly, was winning.

I've read a couple of Temple Grandin's books (most recently, Animals Make Us Human. I crave for her to write a book just about dogs and her experiences with them).  I definitely admire her work, and her perseverance.  It isn't tough, having autism, but coming up through the 50's, the way she did, she was lucky her mother was such a strong advocate for her, and her aunt.  Some people, even today, don't have that kind of support, and I think that's a shame.  Some people, even today, go undiagnosed, and that really hurts the learning time that they could have had.

Suffice to say, the movie was freaking amazing.  I've only seen a few video clips of Temple Grandin, but it seemed like Danes nailed it (and, according to Grandin herself, she did).  The cinematography was amazing as well, especially when displaying things like how jarring or panicking lights and sounds can be, and when showing how Grandin, in fact, thinks in pictures.  I was surprised and pleased to see Katherine O'Hara in the movie, as Temple's aunt; she was one of the dog owner/handlers in Best in Show, and I think this is one of the few, if only, roles I've seen her in that wasn't a part of that particular director/acting troupe set.  She was fantastic as well; really, the entire cast seemed great.  

Claire Danes was particularly fantastic (and won what, two awards? to prove it).  She displayed such a range of voice, and of facial expression.  Her bodily postures were, to me, easily recognizable as being "autistic", especially when, every time she met somebody, she fell into a very rote "this is the way I've been taught to meet and greet people appropriately" where she stalked over, hand extended, and said in stilted tones "Hello, I'm Temple Grandin, nice to meet you."  

The things she went through were heartbreaking; kids making fun of her, teachers being totally awkward and dismissive, professional colleagues dismissing her ideas and determination.  And you know what?  She made it.  And according to the text at the end of the movie, a high percentage of United States beef yards use her humane methods of moving the cattle through their facilities.  It was repeated more than once, "Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be."  


  1. Great review! I'm going to have to add this one to my queue. "My So-Called Life" was my favorite show for that one year it was on, and I've been a huge Claire Danes fan ever since, too!

  2. Just added this movie to my Netflix queue - didn't know it existed! Both a Danes and Grandin fan here so I'm looking forward to this. Thanks for spot-lighting it.

  3. Great review! I will have to get my daddies to look at it :D


  4. @Maggie It's a shame "My So-Called Life" was so short, really. That kind of thing just keeps happening, shows cancelled too soon.

    @Leslie I didn't know it existed, either, until I saw somebody else get it at the library. I got on that list right quick! I'm still just completely amazed and admiring at how wonderful it is.

    @Luna Good idea! Tell your friends ;)

  5. We watched that movie early this Spring, and I loved it! I thought it was so well done!

  6. I watched it when it was on HBO... it was amazing!

  7. I've heard of Temple Grandin and knew of the movie but haven't read any of her books. Reading her books and seeing the movie are on my list of things to do ... which includes catching up on blog reading:) Your review has made me move her books and movie up the list!

  8. I honestly didn't think anyone else had seen this film...I found it "by accident" browsing at my local library & I absolutely loved it.

    It's so different from anything Clair Danes has done before and it is such a unique story...I highly recommend this film to everyone and thanks for giving it some love here on your blog.

  9. @Greyhonds CAN Sit I never read any of Grandin's books before last year, but I regret having not done it sooner. She's definitely worth a gander!

    @terriertorrent I'm encountering people who have watched and loved it, and people who have never heard of it. And people who have never heard of Temple Grandin. So; all over the spectrum there. I was just so thrilled with it, though, I definitely recommend it to all!