FAR FROM THE TREE – A Review by Cynthia Flores

 
FAR FROM THE TREE – A Review by Cynthia Flores
 
Far From The Tree is the touching documentary based on the hit book by the same name.  It’s writer and narrator for this film is Andrew Solomon.  In his struggle to deal with being gay and disappointing his conservative parents by coming out, he took ten years to research and write his award-winning book.  In this incarnation of his study on family, and the dynamics of dealing with children that were not like the rest of the clan, and not what you had planned, we see the love and heartache that each family deals with.
 
In the film, we meet a family that were one of the first in the 70's to choose not to institutionalize their son that the doctors called ‘retarded’.  That was before they had the term Down Syndrome to label children that have the extra Y chromosome.  Their son, which is now forty-two years old, has thrived beyond what the doctors ever thought was possible but not as far as they had hoped.
 
The next family we meet has a son who at the age of two started showing signs of preverbal autism.  They tried everything to reach him.  We see how frustrated they were with nothing working.  As their son got older, he got stronger and more violent.  I don't care who you are, if you have a heart, you will be touched by the breakthrough that they had with him.  That moment when they knew he was in there and wanted to communicate is worth seeing.
 
The next family is dealing with what it’s like being a small person with dwarfism and their struggles.  Instead of the family dealing with having a small person as a child, we see a small person couple very much in love and determined to have a family.  They are hoping that they’ll have a small person, but knowing that if they have a large person instead they would love that child anyway because they know what it’s like to not look like the rest of the family.
 
The last family we meet is one of the harder ones to watch.  They were a normal all-American family with three kids.  One day their sixteen-year-old son, for no apparent reason, decided to slit the throat of an eight year old neighbor boy.  We see how the family had to move to another state to start over.  We also see how they still love him, staying connected to him even though he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
 
The stories are all woven together with Andrew’s own story of how he dealt with his parents’ initial inability to accept him as a gay man.
 
Far From The Tree covers a lot of ground, I think it’ll start some conversations about what normal is and can be.  Andrew sums up the film by saying, “It’s remarkable all the different ways people find to be happy in whatever situation they happen to be in.”
 
I hope you’ll seek out this film in theaters and on demand. It’s a gentle study of familial love.  I give it an A- rating.
 
Directed by Rachel Dretzin
Written By Andrew Solomon
Rated NR
Selig Rating A-
Running Time 1hr 33min
Documentary
Limited Release August 3rd at The Magnolia Theater 
Starring: Andrew Solomon
 
 
The Selig Rating Scale:
 
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
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