Posts Tagged ‘“Far from the Tree”’

Joseph and Leah  Stramodo

“FAR FROM THE TREE” My rating: B+

93 minutes | No MPAA rating

“Far from the Tree” is an effortlessly empathetic documentary about being different.

From a technical and presentational standpoint it’s pretty run of the mill.  But the subject matter of Rachel Dretzin’s heart-grabber is so compelling that once seen it’s doubtful anyone will quickly forget the supercharged emotion this film generates.

The inspiration is Andrew Solomon’s book of the same name, a massive examination of parents and children who are emphatically unalike.

Solomon was inspired by his own gayness (he appears in this film frequently clothed in an incendiary flamboyant wardrobe) and his struggle to gain acceptance from his disapproving parents.  But as he notes in a filmed interview, he wanted to expand the scope of his study to parents of all kinds of special/unusual children.

Between glimpses of Solomon’s life (he’s now married to another man and the father of two) Dretzin’s camera studied a variety of individuals.

There’s Jason Kingsley, born with Down Syndrome and something of a poster boy in his teens for his advanced intelligence. His mother relates the difficulties of having a Down Syndrome child and Jason’s brief triumph.

We see Jason now as a 40-something living in a house with two other Down Syndrome men. He holds down a job. But while his intellect remains sharp, his emotional life is stunted. He’s fallen in love with Elsa, the heroine of the animated “Frozen,” and while he knows she’s fictional he still wants desperately to travel to Norway in the hope of meeting her.


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