Temple Grandin – HBO Award Winning – DVD
Author(s): Temple Grandin
Based on the writings by its title subject, HBO Films’ Temple Grandin is an engaging portrait of a young woman with autism who became, through timely mentoring and sheer force of will, one of America’s most remarkable success stories.
It doesn’t take long to see that Temple Grandin, the main character in this eponymous HBO movie, is different–she (in the person of Claire Danes, who plays her) tells us before the credits start that she’s “not like other people.” But “different” is not “less.” Indeed, Grandin, who is now in her sixties, has accomplished a good deal more than a great many “normal” folks, despite the autism that Grandin overcame on her way to earning a doctorate, becoming a bestselling author, and a pioneer in the humane treatment of livestock. It wasn’t easy. The doctor who diagnosed her at age four said she’d never talk and would have to be institutionalized. Only through the dogged efforts of her mother, Julia Ormond (who was told that “lack of bonding” with her child might have caused the autism), did Grandin learn to speak, to work academically all the way through grad school, and to become a highly productive scientist. Her lack of social skills and sometimes violent reactions to the overstimulation in her environment made it tough to fit in, to say the least, and she endured the cruel taunts of her classmates as well as the resistance of many of the adults in her life. Danes, who is in nearly every scene of director Mick Jackson’s film, is remarkable—embodying Grandin’s various idiosyncrasies (such as talking too loud, too fast, and too much) without resorting to caricature. Jackson does a marvelous job of depicting not only her actual accomplishments, but also her more abstract talents, especially the extraordinary visual acuity that enables her to remember virtually everything she’s ever seen. This is mostly Danes’ film, but the whole cast is top-notch: especially Ormond, Catherine O’Hara as Temple’s aunt, and David Strathairn as one of the few teachers who saw Grandin’s potential. Captivating, compelling, and thoroughly entertaining, Temple Grandin is highly recommended. –Sam Graham