My Left Foot

500 Movie Challenge: My Left Foot

My Left FootTime to venture into Critically Acclaimed Films, a category in which a lot of films I have had recommended to me fall. For some reason, people think I will nearly always like Critically Acclaimed Films. Is it the hipster vibe I give off? I’m still trying to figure out why.

The gist: It’s the 1930s in Ireland, and Christy Brown is born with cerebral palsy. He cannot control his limbs, and can only fully maneuver his left leg at will. Since he can’t really speak and this is a time before CAT scans were readily available, his family assumes he’s mentally stunted as well as crippled. All the same, they decide to keep him at home among his family rather than send him away.

Then one day, Christy picks up a piece of chalk with his foot and writes MOTHER. He’s aware of everyone! Christy can think! The family rejoices, and start taking him outside more to play with the other children. They haul him around in a cart. They make him goalie for street football matches. Eventually, Christy’s paintings (drawn entirely with his left leg) start drawing the attention of the outside world. Opportunities start to come for Christy, most of which he never would have expected to come his way.

What I “learned”: Why aren’t there more movies starring handicapped people? Seriously, how is this not more of a thing?

I get that Christy Brown is portrayed by an able-bodied Daniel Day-Lewis, but that’s a different issue. But this film has whet my appetite for stories about handicapped peoples’ experiences. This is a world so few of us touch on daily basis. Why not show it more often in film? I feel like we’ve only just dipped our feet into a pool of untold stories.

See this movie if you like: Either movies featuring realistic Irish people or movies showing handicapped people as more than objects of pity. This movie works because Christy Brown is a very human person, who struggles with alcholism and plays up his status as a “cripple” to mess with people. One of my favorite moments in the film is when Christy tells his speech therapist to f*ck off because she’s the one who suggested he go to an institution to learn to speak more clearly. But I also love the scenes where Christy’s mother scolds her children for stealing coal off the coal truck because stealing is a sin. As an Irish-American, I love seeing Irish people (in Dublin, no less) portrayed as complex people. It’s not stereotypical for Christy’s father to be annoyed at his son reciting Shakespeare all day as part of his therapy. That’s just a dad. Even if his name is Paddy.

Avoid this movie if: The conflicts centered around caring for a disabled person hit a little too close to home. I imagine it may be hard for folks with a disabled family member to watch this movie because people didn’t know what to do with disabled people in the 1950s. The Browns were very unique for the time in that they didn’t send Christy off to an institution to remain forever unseen. So they did their best, though their best may be considered neglect by today’s standards.

But I don’t want to speak for disabled people or their families. I don’t have that right. I speak out of concern, but not out of experience. As someone who is able-bodied, I enjoyed this movie because it showed the issues and emotions in the mind of someone whose issues and emotions I do not often have shown to me in culture. I hope more movies like this are made in the future.

New Films Watched: 22

Films Re-Watched: 0

Total Number of Films: 22

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