Monday, 6 January 2014

Ordinary People

A must-watch due to its pedigree as the winner of Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor at the 1981 Academy Awards, I hadn't actually any idea what Ordinary People was about until reading the synopsis on the case.  It was with a slight sense of dread I wondered what I was letting myself in for, but I was rewarded with something subtly remarkable.

Robert Redford's directorial debut is a quiet drama, packed with explosive moments.  Pacing slowly through the opening, Ordinary People allows the audience to piece together its subject matter one strained conversation or nightmare flashback at a time, until it's apparent we're exploring a changed family dynamic after a tragic death.

Naturally, it's emotional, but the authentic tone and sensitive handling avoids melodrama or sentimentality.  The characters truly are ordinary, next door types, (albeit in a very nice neighbourhood!) with real worries and problems, ripped apart by their differing ways of dealing with their grief.

Delving into the ways they handle their feelings and examining guilt, avoidance, over-compensation, openness and deflection, Ordinary People takes place in a time when it wasn't "nice" to talk about your problems, and brings to the fore the need for communication, even when it's hard to talk.  A brilliant take on grief and depression.

If Ordinary People looks at grief and communication amongst teens and adults, sweetly nostalgic Stand By Me does the same for children.  Again, it's the loss of an older brother overshadowing the story, but in this case, it's twelve-year-old Gordie's friends who pull him through.

No comments:

Post a Comment