MOZART AND THE WHALE movie review

GroovyDruid Reports:

After months of waiting for Mozart and the Whale to hit theaters, I decided to take decisive action. I strolled into the Millenium/Nu Image Films offices here in Los Angeles and asked to have the straight dope on when this movie would be widely available. They couldn’t tell me, but they were kind enough to give me a copy of the movie so that I could review it for WrongPlanet. So here it is! Read on!
I’m still recovering from the shock.

In most films I watch, the histrionics of the NT characters lands short. Even while enjoying the film, I find myself at a distance emotionally. Mozart and the Whale grabbed me by the lapels and dragged me into personal territory in a most startling way.

I cannot adequately describe the tingling sensation that came over me as I watched Ronald (Josh Hartnett) and Isabelle (Radha Mitchell) struggle against their Asperger’s to build and keep a loving relationship. I found myself laughing and slapping the chair, or groaning and remembering times when, as Ronald says, “I never know what to say!”

Hartnett and Mitchell do an excellent job of portraying aspies. Their characters are vastly different, but truthful and well researched. Hartnett plays a kind-hearted math savant with a mind plagued by indecision. Mitchell plays a flamboyant music savant with an abrasive laugh and a knack for loudly saying the wrong thing. Isabelle’s blurted comments will bring painful laughter to any aspie who’s spoken his mind and regretted it.

The story’s conflict centers around the communication difficulties accompanying most aspie relationships, and the psychological hang-ups of Ronald and Isabelle. They must overcome shyness, sexual insecurity, Isabelle’s abrasiveness, and Donald’s wish to appear “normal” to the NTs in their environment. It’s touch and go as to whether their love for one another can survive their idiosyncrasies, and aspies will find the conflict relevant.

The movie is beautifully photographed, and the music is both hilarious and appropriate. Director Petter Naess shows off his talent very well in the construction of the film.

The screenplay of Mozart and the Whale comes from the pen of Ron Bass, the writer who gave us Rain Man. I won’t pull punches: it’s fairly pedestrian as movie scripts go. I don’t think the public will embrace the movie, and I doubt it will go beyond limited release. The story doesn’t have universal enough meaning for a wide audience to relate well to it. It’s just too specific to people with ASD.

In sum I’d say Mozart and the Whale will give people with ASD some good laughs and a more personal viewing experience than they are used to. I highly recommend it for friends and family as well, if they want a bit more insight into living on the spectrum. But don’t look for this to be the film that communicates ASD awareness to the general public or makes it “cool” to be an aspie. That step must wait for some other film.

(By the way, if I missed a point you’re interested in and you’d like more info, feel free to post a comment with your question(s). I’ll check back often.)

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