Michael is a 24-year-old man who has cerebral palsy and resides at the Carrigmore Residential Home for the Disabled. His life is changed when outspoken Rory O’Shea moves in. Michael is stunned to find out that Rory, who can move only his right hand, can understand his slurred speech. Rory’s rebellious personality soon sparks a flame in Michael, introducing him to a whole new world outside of Carrigmore. Rory convinces Michael that they should move out on their own and hire a beautiful caretaker.
Just got done watching this, my eyes are still wet. This movie felt so real. I actually felt all of the emotions portrayed here during my life at various times – that of both Rory and Michael. I have Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy like Rory so what you see here is exactly what I’ve actually felt myself. If any disabled people see this and say it’s unrealistic, that’s a bunch of crap because I’ve been through it for real. Still others won’t believe there ARE disabled people like Rory, full of anger and rebellion. I know many disabled people I’ve met are nice and passive but there are fighters out there who do argue their beliefs with others. I know they exist because I’m one of the fighters with an anger that drives me. Rory portrays this type of personality perfectly. Those that know me will see great similarities between Rory and me, slightly different in “actual” executed activities but the same emotions.
I’ve seen some say this film has clichés. Where? I’ve never seen a film tackle all of the issues that it did so directly and as accurately as this film. The TV movie “When You Remember Me” (1990) starring Fred Savage is right up there with this movie. It’s a the true story of Mike Mills, a teen with muscular dystrophy, who is placed in a state nursing home by his destitute single mother. There he must contend with being the only young person in the clinic and with an abusive head nurse. So if there’s clichés, I guess I’m a cliché, one who gets the response that “I’m not like anyone else” “and don’t you ever shut up” as does Rory.
The story is great. For a drama, character-driven movie, the story moves fast. I was never bored, maybe partly because I was seeing stuff that is close to my heart. But I think most people, with intelligence, will be glued to the screen and care about the characters. We see them in tons of different situations – eating, drinking at a bar, bathing, transferring into bed, roaming the streets, discussing and more. I’ve been through most of these situations and I’ve felt their pains, struggles, urge, emotions, everything is captured here accurately.
The disabled equipment is real so it’s very realistic. Everyone with a power wheelchair has experienced a battery dying on them or driving through crowds. Some of us have experienced racing in our chairs and cheating. :) The able-bodied children’s reaction to them is accurate here – they start out making fun (some more than others) of you but later, after asking questions, they start to befriend and help you. Rory races them on their scooters (he loses even with cheating) and they like him after that. Of course, I’d of won! :) The Hoyer lift is shown too – those are useful but a pain in the ass to actually use.
The acting is phenomenal! James McAvoy is perfect as Rory O’Shea, who has Duchene’s muscular dystrophy. He can’t move except for his one hand and has full vocalization (just like me) so all of his acting is purely in his facial expression and enunciation of his words. Steven Robertson deserves an award for his portrayal as Michael Connolly, who has cerebral palsy. He can’t talk but it’s unintelligible to most people (except Rory) and can physically move his whole body but with very little coordination. Robertson does it so perfectly, it’s uncanny! Move over Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man). This is even better than Sean Penn (I Am Sam). The gorgeous Romola Garai plays Siobhan, the able-bodied girl hired by Rory & Michael, as their attendant/caregiver. She des a fine job as well.
Both Rory & Michael fall in love with Siobhan but, while Rory is quiet about it, Michael vocally expresses it. After she publicly refuses his advances, Michael really is a wreck. Rory helps him come to terms with it. I’ve felt this many times and the question is “doesn’t she love me because I’m just not the one or because my disability turned her off?” No matter what the girl says, we will always be skeptical as to the truth. It’s just natural and it hurts either way.
Neither James McAvoy nor Steven Robertson are really disabled which bothers some viewers. Normally this bugs me but they’re so authentically portrayed that I didn’t really notice or care. They did a damn fine job!
A few parts made me cry a little because it is sad and I have to face the issues myself. People without a terminal disability (as opposed to illness such as cancer) just cannot begin to fathom how it can feel.
This is a must-see film for everyone who can breathe. Disabled people are everywhere and greatly misunderstood. This film brings a little light on some of the facts of life, which are so taken for granted by the able-bodied. We want to be just like you – to live on our own terms, to go out, to get drunk, and to be loved. On the outside, we can’t do much but on the inside, we’re dancing!