Friday, 24 December 2010


Margrét Dagmar Ericsdóttir is an Icelandic producer whose son Keli experiences a particularly severe form of autism. Margrét worked with famed Icelandic director Friðrik Þór Friðriksson to create a documentary in which she talked to experts and other parents of autistic children to understand the condition better for herself. Margrét visits professor of animal sciences Dr. Temple Grandin, who stands as living proof that one can achieve goals despite being diagnosed with autism at a young age. Other interviewees explain how they or their relatives have overcome their problems through openly embracing the comforting aspects of sensory stimulation.

What marks The Sunshine Boy apart from other documentaries of a similar nature is that the filmmaker herself has a personal connection to the subject, but chooses to learn through examining others in her position. Essentially, the journey of the film is one of reflection, and it is to Margrét’s credit that we as an audience are never allowed to wallow in pity. The range of experts deal with autism in different ways, some apparently more effective than others, and the suggestion is that a parent could feasibly teach these methods at home to give the child the best opportunities in life. What perhaps doesn’t work so well is the choice of music – the use of Björk’s song Human Behaviour in particular is a little insensitive. Additionally, Kate Winslet’s narration is quite unnecessary – for a documentary about overcoming communication problems, it’s unusual that the investigator should be dubbed by a famous actress.

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