AUTISM: THE MUSICAL (Tricia Regan). 94 minutes. Screens as part of Doc Soup Wednesday (March 5), including a post-screening discussion with the director, at the Bloor Cinema. Rating: NNNN
Don’t be afraid – though god knows I was. My eyes were rolling out of my head at the prospect of viewing another documentary about kids who are different but rise above their situation and... ho-freakin’-hum. I don’t like uplift, even in a bra. Worse, the kids here put on a show.
But Autism: The Musical works. Like any good movie, it has fascinating characters. These autistic kids are show varying skills: Lexi can sing, Henry’s encyclopedic on the subject of dinosaurs, Wyatt has exceptional observational skills, Adam plays the cello.
The documentary tracks Elaine Hall as she directs The Miracle Project, her attempt to harness the energies of these autistic kids and others’, including her own son Neal’s, into a stage presentation.
Okay, you sorta know that the musical will work out and everybody will cry watching it, but along the way director Tricia Regan makes some really smart choices. In particular, she shows how the parents of these exceptional children cope – or don’t. Couples argue, break up and behave badly. One totally loses it during the dress rehearsal.
Before you know it, your heart and soul are very involved in this – yes – uplifting story.