We get what we’re born with,
No more and no less.
Curse the sky,
Moan and sigh,
Pound the cage and wonder why;
Still, when you are out of breath,
You’ll have what led to such distress.
Our handicaps vary,
In flesh and in mind.
Is it strange
That this range
Still can lead to lasting change?
The albatrosses each must carry
Mark the best of humankind.
Yet suffering will never
Inspire by default.
‘Tis the sight
Of the fight,
Proving we are not our plight.
The hardest roads, the fool’s endeavor
Are the wins to most exalt!
MPA rating: R (mainly for language)
No, I haven’t forgotten about my Blindspots this year, and I plan to hurriedly catch up once school is done in September. In the meantime, I have still been able to see a few. I recall hearing my mom often speak positively about My Left Foot, but I never got around to seeing it for whatever reason. An acclaimed biopic, My Left Foot also heralded Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis as one of the premier actors of his day, which other films have since confirmed.
It’s become a bit of cliché for actors feigning disabilities to become awards magnets, with recent criticism increasing from many communities over such portrayals. In playing the real-life painter and writer Christy Brown, Day-Lewis rises above such complaints with the sheer commitment of bringing to life a man whose life was so much more than a victim of cerebral palsy. Born into a poor but plentiful Irish family, Christy is accommodated to the best of their ability, with particular love from his doting mother Bridget (Brenda Fricker) and grudging affection from his rowdy father Patrick (Ray McAnally, who died shortly after the film’s release).
While chronic conditions like Christie’s might have led to despair and debasement (a la The Elephant Man), it’s a warm-hearted joy to see how his siblings and friends treat him as one of their own. In the Browns’ cash-strapped world, a mere wheelchair is a thing to cherish, while a desire for a room of his own results in an inspiring family effort. In Christy’s struggles, there is still a constant feeling of otherness, leading to heartbreaking moments where Day-Lewis’s intensity transcends his limited movements. The actor’s lock-jawed dialogue can be hard to make out at times, but he perfectly embodies the emotional range of his subject, from his sardonic humor to his self-pitying grief to his earnest desire for happiness.
As award-worthy as Day-Lewis was, I felt Brenda Fricker deserved her Best Supporting Actress Oscar just as much. Indeed, she ranks among the finest movie mothers, both with Day-Lewis and the equally excellent Hugh O’Conor as the young Christy. There has been some debate over whether Driving Miss Daisy deserved its Best Picture win in 1989, with My Left Foot held up as the best alternative. I’ll admit that was a very competitive year (Glory wasn’t even nominated) and I would be happy with My Left Foot winning, but I do have a soft spot for Driving Miss Daisy so I’m still glad it won. Even so, My Left Foot is a shining example of a biopic that finds a perfect convergence of inspiring true story, poignant script, and ideal casting.
Best line: (Mrs. Brown) “A broken body’s nothing compared to a broken heart.”
© 2021 S.G. Liput
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