Mother trav­els globe to help son

Los Angeles Times - - Movies -

The world of autism seems truly mys­te­ri­ous and daunt­ing: A neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­der that short-cir­cuits com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the brain and in se­vere cases can make a prison of the mind. Imag­ine how frus­trat­ing that dark­ness, the den­sity of that per­sis­tent fog, must be to par­ents strug­gling to com­mu­ni­cate with autis­tic chil­dren.

De­spite its un­for­tu­nate ti­tle, the new doc­u­men­tary “A Mother’s Courage: Talk­ing Back to Autism” is a largely un­sen­ti­men­tal jour­ney into these murky wa­ters. It fol­lows Mar­gret, an Ice­landic woman with a se­verely im­paired 11-year-old son, as she looks for an­swers in Amer­ica and Europe. Tem­ple Grandin, the famed an­i­mal-sci­ence pro­fes­sor and sub­ject of a re­cent HBO movie who was di­ag­nosed at age 4, gives ex­tremely il­lu­mi­nat­ing ex­pla­na­tions of what the con­di­tion af­fects, and what the world can be like to some­one af­fected. Fam­i­lies rais­ing mul­ti­ple autis­tic chil­dren de­scribe how they live with the dis­or­der and var­i­ous ex­perts dis­cuss the­o­ries of its causes.

But Fridrik Thor Fridrikkson’s film (nar­rated by Kate Winslet) re­ally kicks into gear when Mar­gret comes to a Texas clinic where a tiny, de­ter­mined In­dian woman named Soma Mukhopad­hyay is ap­ply­ing a tech­nique called Rapid Prompt­ing Method (RPM) with the goal of un­lock­ing the suf­ferer’s abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with the world — with star­tling re­sults.

It’s heart-rend­ing to watch fam­i­lies strug­gle might­ily to sim­ply con­nect with stricken kids. Even skep­ti­cal view­ers (such as this one) will be amazed, though, to see the in­stances of progress cap­tured in this beau­ti­fully shot, fas­ci­nat­ing film.

— Michael Ordoña

“A Mother’s Courage: Talk­ing Back to Autism.” MPAA rat­ing: Un­rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 43 min­utes. Play­ing at the Laemmle’s Mu­sic Hall, Bev­erly Hills.

‘SWEET­HEARTS OF THE PRISON RODEO’:

Fe­male in­mates par­tic­i­pate in a 2007 Ok­la­homa event.

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