Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ordinary People

#1 - Ordinary People

SUMMARY (Skip if you don’t want Spoilers)

This is a movie directed by Robert Redford that is reminiscent of the 70’s with its ending, and has so much emotion in it that you can hardly breathe throughout the time that you’re watching it.  Starting off with a seemingly happy family, you are eventually pulled into their complicated webs of denial that are keeping the illusion intact that, yes, they are truly happy.

A death of a son is not something that is easily dealt with, but they seem to each handle it in their own way.  The father is trying to understand and help his son, the mother is attempting to control every single aspect of her life, while the son is slowly slipping into a dark depression.  His suicide attempt and hospitalization one month before is the only outward sign of his distress, but because of his seemingly easy transition back into regular daily life at home, the parents don’t push.  At least, the mother doesn’t.


As I watched this movie, I found myself moved by the fact that there is no soundtrack to the movie.  Only rarely do you hear the faint strains of a well-known classical piano piece in the background.

The portrayal of Conrad, the son, by actor Timothy Hutton, is a haunting one.  His facial expressions throughout are beautifully subtle and realistic of someone trying to deny themselves the release of their true feelings.  What is rather unique about this role is how Hutton portrays the emotions throughout the film…the truth is, it’s not entirely acting.

An intriguing history behind Hutton’s portrayal of the character has to do with the recent death of his father just before he received the role of Conrad.  Working with director Robert Redford, he was able to channel his anger and disjointed emotions into the emotions of the character of Conrad, his acting becoming, quite literally, therapy that he was being paid to take.  (click on LINK for full article and story)
In one rather intense scene, Conrad calls and meets his therapist (portrayed by Judd Hirsch) at two in the morning , (picture shown at TOP) where he then continues to have an emotional breakdown, which appears to me to be an actual emotional breakdown of Hutton himself, and not just his character.  There is an intensity to him that seems to be drawing from deep-seeded emotion and suffering, and it reaches through the screen and grabs at my heart, causing me to ache for him.  Whether the sympathy is for the character or the actor, I’m not entirely sure, but there is one thing I am sure of: it’s raw and it’s real.

 The entire movie reminds me very much of how the world deals with grief and emotion: denial.  We have therapists, but like the characters in the movie, we resent the idea that we need them.  Constantly being told by the world around us that we are in control of our lives and that we can do it on our own, we don’t like the idea of spilling our innermost thoughts to a stranger, but in the end it ultimately lets us realize, just like the movie shows, that there are no such thing as “ordinary people”.  Instead, there is only the illusion, and then the irrational hope that if we ignore things, the hard things, they will simply go away.  “Ordinary People” is a movie that shows that we are all simply struggling in our own ways to try and fit into this irrational idea of being “ordinary.”  Ordinary people…do they exist, or are they just an ideal that have been fabricated by the masses to have something to aspire to?


  1. Nice review and intriguing thoughts. I’ll have to watch this movie.

  2. Thank you very much for commenting! Glad to know I've given you a new movie to see!