“And now I know it is perfectly natural for me not to look at someone when I talk. Those of us with Asperger’s are just not comfortable doing it. In fact, I don’t really understand why it’s considered normal to stare at someone’s eyeballs,” says John Elder Robison, author of the 2007 memoir ‘Look Me in the Eye.’ Autistic characters have been at the center of some very important stories told in the past few years. Shows like ‘Atypical‘ and ‘Touch’ have furthered the conversation about the representation of autistic people. Apart from the series, Netflix also features a few movies that center on this topic and show the audience the world from a different perspective.
6. The Grown-Ups (2016)
Directed by Maite Alberdi, ‘The Grown-Ups’ is a Chilean documentary that follows a group of people with Down syndrome who have been a part of the same school for the last 40 years. Their condition, despite their urge to be independent and be treated like adults, makes them ill-equipped for it, especially without assistance. Moreover, society itself doesn’t approve of their dreams. Mixed tenderly with sweetness and humor, ‘The Grown-Ups’ is yet a moving and painful portrayal of the issues that people with Down syndrome face, issues that have nothing to do with their condition. You can stream the documentary here.
5. The Lighthouse of the Orcas (2016)
‘The Lighthouse of the Orcas’ is an Argentinean movie that is an enchanting amalgamation of a nature documentary and a fairy tale, set in gorgeous, remote Patagonia. It is also inspired by a true story. Lola is the mother of Tristan, who suffers from autism, does not speak, and is prone to frequent panic attacks. Desperate to see some improvement in her son’s condition, she brings him to meet the marine biologist turned park warden, Beto Bubas, because Tristan would watch his programs on TV and become enthusiastic. Although Bubas is reluctant at first, he later has a change of heart and invites the family to stay in his cottage. He gradually takes Tristan out, exposes him to the beauty of the sea and its inhabitants, especially the orcas, and takes him riding and rowing on his boat. Slowly, we see the little boy reacting positively to the surroundings around him. You can watch it here.
4. I Used to Be Famous (2022)
Directed by Eddie Sternberg, ‘I Used to Be Famous’ is about a former band member, Vince Denham (Ed Skrein), who is looking for a second chance at a gig. One day, while playing his keyboard in the middle of a market, Vince comes across 18-year-old Stevie (Leo Long), who seems to be a good drummer. What follows is how the two team up and support each other to become the best version of themselves by overcoming their struggles, especially after Vince finds out that Stevie is autistic. But how long can their gigs last when Vince’s mother, Amber (Eleanor Matsuura), doesn’t want to risk her son’s meltdowns and unrealistic expectations? To find out, you can watch this beautifully moving film right here.
3. The Imitation Game (2014)
Directed by Morten Tyldum, ‘The Imitation Game‘ is a compelling biographical drama centered on the life of Alan Turing, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. The film delves into Turing’s pivotal role in cracking the Nazi Enigma code during World War II, a breakthrough that hastened the Allied victory. As it unravels the intricacies of code-breaking and wartime espionage, the movie also explores Turing’s personal struggles, including his experience with autism, although not explicitly labeled as such during his time. Cumberbatch’s performance captures Turing’s social challenges and brilliant mind, shedding light on the intersection of genius and neurodiversity. The outstanding cast, including Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode, brings this poignant and historically significant story to life, revealing the profound impact of Turing’s work on modern computing and the tragic circumstances surrounding his life. You can stream the film here.
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2. Raaiselkind (2018)
‘Raaiselkind,’ directed by André Velts, tells the story of the mother and her nine-year-old autistic son. When the kid is found dead in the bathtub, her mother becomes the primary suspect. However, what’s shocking is that she is the one who took care of him and gave him all the love he deserved as well as understood him. Will she be arrested? What is the real reason behind her son’s death? The movie stars Diaan Lawrenson, June van Merch, and Deon Lotz. You can watch it here and find the truth.
1. Taare Zameen Par (2007)
While ‘Taare Zameen Par’ doesn’t address autism specifically, it does address all the specially-abled kids and why we need to understand them in order to help them. Directed by Aamir Khan, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ (Like Stars on Earth) is an Indian Hindi-language drama that follows Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary), an 8-year-old boy who is dyslexic. He is sent to a boarding school against his wishes by his father. While he has a tough time coping with the new strict environment, he soon meets Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), an art teacher at the institution. This person takes it upon himself to help Ishaan, who has a knack for the arts, and bring the kid out of his shell by letting him explore what he likes. A recipient of several awards and India’s entry to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ is bound to move you to your core. The rest of the cast includes Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma, Tanay Chheda, and Tanay Chheda. You can watch it here.
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