27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
An uplifting tale about living life on one's own terms and overcoming incredible odds....,
This review is from: My Left Foot (Special Edition) (DVD)
Christy Brown was born to a large Dublin family (he had 13 surviving siblings) in 1932. Born with severe athetoid cerebral palsy, Christy was unable to speak or control his limbs. At that time, the only course of action was to institutionalize CP children, but Christy's loving family refused to do so, so he grew up as one of the gang: participating in alley football matches, being dragged around town in his wheelbarrow, and included in family dinners. For years, Christy was unable to speak or communicate, until he discovers that he can write with his left foot, the only limb that he can partially control. His mother (Brenda Fricker, who won an Oscar for her performance) loves him with all her heart, but fears that he is retarded as well, until one day, pouring sweat and out of breath from his exertions, he writes "Mother" on the floor with a piece of chalk. His family is dumbfounded.
Christy progresses to painting with his left foot. As Christy enters adulthood, he meets Dr. Eileen, who wants him to participate at a new cerebral palsy clinic in Dublin. Christy goes once, but is shamed and uncomfortable around so many others like him, and demands to be taken home instead. Dr. Eileen starts making house visits to work with Christy on controlling muscle spasms, breath control, and how to speak more clearly. Christy quickly falls in love with Eileen, attempting to recite and memorize Shakespeare in order to win her love. His mother says darkly, "There's too much hope in his voice. A broken body doesn't need a broken heart."
Eileen and her fiancé arrange an exhibition of Christy's paintings, and at a disastrous dinner afterwards, Christy gets stone drunk and makes a scene as Eileen relays her engagement to Peter. "Congratulations on your wonderful news," Christy spits bitterly, sarcastically. "I'm glad you taught me how to speak so I could say that, Eileen."
After his heartbreak, Christy attempts multiple times to commit suicide, but the continuing love and support of his family keeps him above water, if barely. His parents build him a room of his own where he can paint and write in peace. Christy's father dies soon afterwards, and Christy publishes his autobiography in order to earn money for his family.
The movie's narrative structure is unique as well: the film begins with Christy getting ready to go to a benefit, and throughout the film we cut back to the present as he waits to go on, where a nurse reads his autobiography, and back to Christy's past.
Daniel Day-Lewis (adult Christy) and Hugh O'Connor (young Christy) are a seamless transition. It is obvious that both spent time in CP clinics observing the behavior, movements and mannerisms of CP patients; they portray Christy with sensitivity and an eye for how difficult the simplest things were for him.
This is an incredible movie. After seeing "Rory O'Shea Was Here," another film about CP adults and caregivers (including Brenda Fricker), I wanted to see "My Left Foot" for myself after reading so many comparisons. The Special Edition DVD features several trailers for other Miramax films and a making-of, featuring vintage footage of Christy's family and interviews with his mother. My only disappointment was the terrible transfer quality of the DVD; the film was grainy, with multiple specks of dust and dirt on every frame, and looked more like a worn-out VHS tape. Shame on Miramax for calling this remastered.
The film is rated R (profanity, domestic violence, suicide attempts and massive alcohol use).