Released 1980 (USA)
American, in English
Director – Robert Redford
Stars – Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch, Timothy Hutton
The story of a family learning to cope after the accidental death of the older son. Moore plays mother Beth Jarrett; Sutherland, the father, Calvin Jarrett; and Hutton the younger son, Conrad Jarrett. Hirsch co-stars as Conrad’s psychologist, Dr. Tyrone Berger.
A surprising amount of blue language.
While I didn’t feel this way, I could see where some people would find this slow & pointless. There’s not really anything exciting about it. It’s a character study, which isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.
The acting is absolutely phenomenal. They were all great; I can’t even say that one actor was better than another (although Hutton, wow, I didn’t know he had it in him). I really expected to hate Beth, who, incapable of expressing love or of forgiving Conrad for being alive while her other son is not, isn’t a particularly sympathetic character. But Moore somehow manages to play her in a way that I just felt pity for her, because her shortcomings hurt her more than anyone else. Sutherland and Hutton have great chemistry together; I could actually believe that they were a loving father and son. Their final scene together broke my heart in a good way. Hirsch too was fantastic; I thought this was one of the better portrayals of a psychologist I’ve ever seen on film.
I liked that it asked a lot of hard questions that didn’t have easy answers, and that it didn’t go for the quick, happy ending.
First, a story about Timothy Hutton. About a year ago or so, I was flipping through the channels on TV when I stumbled across an episode of The Twilight Zone called “And When the Sky Was Opened.” One of the actors looked really familiar to me. It bothered me so much that I finally looked it up. It turns out that the actor was Jim Hutton, Timothy Hutton’s father. I’ve never seen him in anything else; I recognized him because his son looks so much like him (at the time, my husband and I were going through all the seasons of the show “Leverage,” which Timothy starred in). Jim Hutton died young, in 1979, of cancer. When Timothy won the Best Actor Oscar (deservedly) for “Ordinary People,” he dedicated it to his father.
Now, the verdict. I really liked this film. I was dreading it going in because I figured it was going to be a sob fest. It was. I’m a huge sap. I hate to see people in emotional pain. I’m a sympathetic crier. If someone on-screen is crying, I’m likely to start crying as well. You better believe I was crying my eyes out during this film, and I’m glad no one was around to witness it. While I don’t have children, I imagine that losing a child has got to be just about the most painful thing a person can experience. I can understand why it tears families apart. Watching this film was like sitting through two hours of getting punched right in the emotions.
But I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing. This is a great film. If you’re not adverse to sad stories and ambiguously happy endings, then don’t shy away from this one. There aren’t a lot of movies out there that are capable of being this poignant without straying too far into the category of melodrama. This is one of them.
I give the movie 4.25 stars.