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  • Losing Isaiah [VHS]
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Losing Isaiah [VHS]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jessica Lange, Halle Berry, David Strathairn, Cuba Gooding Jr., Daisy Eagan
  • Directors: Stephen Gyllenhaal
  • Writers: Naomi Foner, Seth Margolis
  • Producers: Hawk Koch, Kimberly Brent, Naomi Foner, Sharon Owyang
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Paramount Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: June 1, 1999
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303574203
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,979 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Jessica Lange is a social worker who falls for an abandoned newborn and breaks all the rules by bringing him home. Halle Berry is the homeless druggie who dumped the baby. One of the film's best attributes is that it reveals everyone's perspective, though much of the story is told from Berry's point of view. Strung out on crack, Berry's character thinks nothing of hiding her baby in a cardboard box near a dumpster before going off for a fix. We watch Berry painfully pull herself up out of the gutter and make a life for herself. She embraces decency and sobriety and becomes the person she might have always been had her childhood been different. After Lange and her amiable spouse (David Strathairn) have formed strong family ties with this difficult child, they find themselves fighting to keep him when Berry decides she wants Isaiah back. Naomi Foner's clever script reveals a legal system that is as much a character in this painful story as the attorney (Samuel L. Jackson) who takes on the case pro bono. Though the film ultimately flounders under a hesitant ending, Lange is such a dynamo that this tragic story still comes recommended. --Rochelle O'Gorman

Customer Reviews

No scratches or skipping of the dvd player.
Brings up a lot of social issues while depicting the emotions and issues involved with foster care/adoption in a very sympathetic and intelligent manner.
This is why I was CRYING because it was SUCH a happy ending!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bonita L. Davis on September 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Isaiah is known as one of the greatest prophets of Israel. Such is the case with this little African- American boy who was abandoned in the trash by his crack crazed mother. Three years later his mother, now clean, decides to reclaim her child. All of this sounds easy but little Isaiah has been adopted by a white social worker and her family and she is determined to keep him at all costs. The drama which unfolds before us is heart breaking as we attempt to decide what is in the best interest of this child.
Halle Berry, Jessica Lange And Samuel Jackson give outstanding performances in enacting the rivalry and possessive claims that both women have on this young toddler. Poverty versus Affluence, the feasibility of inter-racial adoptions, marital/parental stability (and responsibility) and the do gooder mentality are themes that run their course throughout the drama. All of these elements are dealt with in the drama and pulls the viewer from one woman's claim to the other. Who is right? Does pigmentation or culture matter? Above all, what has love got to do with it?
Social workers and judges in juvenile courts across the country are daily making these decisions of terminating parental rights and placing children in what they see as stable homes. Losing Isaiah is not a fantasy but a present reality. How to resolve these issues of custody is the dilemma for all involved. There are not any easy answers and unfortunately this film ends with an "easy" answer which isn't realistic.
The little Isaiah in the film, like his prophet namesake calls these adults to spiritual, moral and social accountability. His impact makes Margaret (the social worker) deal with what is going on in her marriage and family.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Williams III on September 20, 2005
Format: DVD
Perhaps the biggest complaint I have with custody battles is that they are ultimately based around the selfishness of the adults involved, whether it be a battle between the child's mother and father, or between the biological parent(s) and the foster parent(s). "Losing Isaiah" is an example of a movie that uses this sad truth to tell a compelling story.

Normally, I'd be quick to write off someone like Halle Berry's character (a former crack addict who abandoned her baby in an alley) as someone unfit to raise this child. I'd also be uneasy about tearing Isaiah away from the only home he's ever known. Thankfully, this film does not end there.

After the courtroom decision is rendered, we see a much different Isaiah than the playful, cheerful child we first encountered. Did anyone bother to stop and ask him what he wanted? In an ideal world, someone would have. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, but at least we have people who (albeit a little slowly) realize this mistake in "Losing Isaiah." Were I to be given the assignment of filming a movie based around a custody battle, this is the kind of movie I would make.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shyblader on October 26, 2003
Format: DVD
For those of you that think Halle is just a pretty face...hopefully her Oscar winning performance in "Monster's Ball" showed you that she wasn't...but if you still have doubts this is a movie you should see. Halle is well deserving of an Oscar in this film as well, she plays a crack addicted homeless woman who loses it all and dumps her baby in the trash just so she can get a hit...when she comes out of her drug stooper she then realizes her mistake, but it's too late. The baby was adopted by a white family and she believes her baby to have died. The movie takes off from there, the white family raises and cares for the child. After Halle's character struggles but reforms herself she finds out that the child is still alive. Then the battle for who is rightfully the parent of the child begins. Some of the highlights here...Samuel L. Jackson's role as Halle's Lawyer and the scene in which the 2 "mothers" meet in the bathroom for the first time...that is a very powerful scene. The movie is a very powerful and moving piece of cinema. Excellent film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie is one of my favorites...one which I shared with foster parents in my professional capacity as a social worker.

We see the inevitable pull between birth mother and adoptive mother, cheering for each even as the tug nears its conclusion.

One of the downsides of this movie is the abrupt separation between the adoptive mother and the child. In my social worker capacity, I was able to orchestrate a more gradual reunification.

However, this is a movie and the drama depends upon the gut-wrenching loss.

Well worth the time and tears.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
12/04/03 The movie ends with one line on the screen Isaiah 11:6 "and a little child shall lead them"...Supense is there from the moment that the child's biological mother*(played by actress Halle Berry*)) puts him in a cardboard box behind the "beastly room she has herself & he living in"; to him being rescued from the inside of a Muncipal Trash Truck " in the nick of time;to the ER representing itself as the life saving force of hospitals once more, in rescusitating him; with a woman* (of another race and her family adopting him)played by actress Jessica Lange*) saving him from an early life of "foster homes" ,his biological mother raising from her demons,pits and dens of self destruction",the courts ruling in favor of the biological mother (so he can be raised in the culture which is the reality that he must be groomed to realize)to an ending of the adoptee's mother and the biological mother going beyond "self" to be a team in helping him reach the age of reason and beyond as a sensible human.
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