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Ordinary People (DVD)
An extraordinary motion picture, Ordinary People is an intense examinati on of a family being torn apart by tension and tragedy. Dona ld Sutherla nd and Mary Tyler Moore star as the upper-middle-class couple whose "ord inary" existence is irrevocably shattered by the death of their oldest s on in a boating accident. Timothy Hutton is the younger son, struggling against suicide and guilt left by the drowning. Judd Hirsch is the empa thetic psychiatrist who provides his lifeline to survival. Mary Tyler Mo ore gives a riveting portr ayal of the inexplicably aloof mother. Robert Redford's achievement as director, after more than twenty years as a su perstar in fron t of the camera, earned him an Oscar® Superb performance s and masterful direction complement the award-winning screenplay, based upo n the novel by Judith Guest.]]>
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What struck me as most relevant upon this viewing (I'd seen this run on cable TV once before about 12 years prior) was the concept of flexibility. Conrad has two female companions and two parents. In each set, one models the ability to adapt and change one's mind once gathering new information while the other by contrast prefers to remain rigid in their thinking. At the end of the movie, Conrad grows closer to the girl and the parent that have this flexible approach while losing touch with the other girl and the other parent that cling to absolutes of perfection and should be's.
This movie deserved every award it got and more. This was a Mary Tyler Moore performance heretofore unseen or imagined. Timothy Hutton's career as an actor was entirely established by this movie. Donald Sutherland and Judd Hirsch are at their best.
The movie is exhausting to watch, but worth every minute. Like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", I can only bring myself to watch "Ordinary People" every few years. After all these years, I still end up open-mouthed and overwhelmed as the film closes, both because of the subject matters broached and because of the powerful acting. "Ordinary People" sets a very high bar for Best Movies Ever.