Directed by Roger Ross Williams
From 9th December 2016
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
At the age of three, Owen Suskind was diagnosed with an extreme form of autism, to the point where he stopped talking at all. His parents were informed that he may never regain the power of speech.
This film, which is at least twenty minutes too long – it does tend to repeat similar points about Owen’s condition – is based on the book by his father, a journalist at the Wall Street Journal.
A turning point came when Owen’s parents realised that he could communicate, albeit through constantly watching and learning from Disney animated films.
What they thought was gibberish coming out of his mouth was instead lines of dialogue repeated from various films.
Director Roger Ross Williams juxtaposes Suskind home movies from when Owen was a young child – he is now aged 23 – with excerpts from various Disney movies, together with cleverly created animated sequences that describe pictorially what happened when Owen’s family found a way of communicating with him.
From being ensnared in a ‘prison of autism’ Owen is now capable of living in his own apartment in a special group house.
His elder brother, ironically called Walt, make a number of telling remarks about what the future holds for Owen, basically the big unknown.
Coming from a well heeled family – Owen has never wanted for any material possessions or expensive medical treatment – it did make me wonder how his life would have turned out if instead he had been brought up by a low income family.