Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Oscar Movie Review: "Ordinary People" (1980)

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Movie"Ordinary People"
Year Nominated: 1981
Director: Robert Redford
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
Did It Win?: Yes.

A family is trying to find ways to cope after their youngest son Conrad's (Timothy Hutton) suicide attempt. Conrad is, in turn, trying to deal with depression from the guilt he carries over the death of his older brother. 

More like "(Not So) Ordinary People," amirite??

BigJ and I watched this movie several years ago and we distinctly remember disliking it a lot. When we saw it was going to come off of Netflix in a couple days, we decided to give it another try and I am really glad we did. This is a deeply personal and heartfelt story that deals with the serious subject matters of both survivor's guilt and suicide. It is extremely emotionally moving and even gut-wrenching at times as we understand and empathize with the pain that this family has had to deal with after the loss of a son/brother. Timothy Hutton is excellent as Conrad and took home the much deserved Best Supporting Actor trophy for his role. The only thing that is odd and sort of confusing to us is that it is a supporting role accolade, and while Donald Sutherland plays his father, Hutton is clearly the main actor and the leading part in the film. The vast majority of the story focuses on him and his guilt, him after his suicide attempt and his attempt at trying to return to normalcy, as well as his relationship to and with his parents. His father Calvin is played by the fabulous Donald Sutherland, who is a kind man and wants to understand his son and do all he can to help him. Though it is obvious that he may coddle him from time to time, we as the audience believe that Calvin wants the best for his son, even if it means including him when he'd rather not. His mother, Beth, played wonderfully and tragically by Mary Tyler Moore, is a distant and cold person and it even seems that she dislikes her son Conrad from time to time. Even if she does love him, she is at least uncomfortable around him. When they are in the same room together, the tension rises and the level of awkwardness is palpable to us as the audience watching them try to have even a minor exchange with one another. Moore is able to exert this distress and the sense of being uncomfortable so beautifully, yet we feel bad for how she is reacting to an already bad, sad and stressful situation. Beth seems more concerned with the family's image and their social status than she actually does about actual people and her family. Every single emotion she projects to other people, whether on the phone or in person at a party, is all a facade to hide her feelings as she tries to convince all of their friends that they are just ordinary people. In a way, the title of this film is breathtakingly poetic. After experiencing such tragedy, Calvin, Beth and Conrad will never be without the sorrows of what they have gone through, and over the course of the movie, we slowly see each character begin to unravel, revealing their true thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is one of the most intimate films I think I have ever seen. After it was all said and done as the credit were rolling, I turned to BigJ and said, "I am so confused as to why we didn't like this movie the first time we watched it." His reply was, "maybe we have been through enough pain in life to understand it better now." Maybe he is right.

BigJ also feels like the movie was a little slow moving, but I do not agree. I think all of the elements come together just right to make a well crafted, engaging, flawlessly executed and heartbreaking movie. Robert Redford, the director of this movie, made a true masterpiece here.
My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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