HER NAME IS SABINE (D: Sandrine Bonnaire, France). 85 minutes. Subtitled. Sunday (April 20), 4:15 pm, Isabel Bader; April 26, 11:30 am, ROM. Rating: NNNN
French actor Sandrine Bonnaire turns director-cinematographer with this piercing, deeply personal look at autism -- specifically as experienced by her younger sister Sabine. Bonnaire uses camcorder footage of Sabine as a withdrawn but capable teenager as a contrast to the shambling, depressed and socially incompetent woman she's become after two decades of treatment, including a five-year stay in an institution from which she emerged 30 kilos heavier and dulled by overpowering medication.
Bonnaire's insistence on showing her sister as she is -- affectionate and awkward, but also drooling, violent and needy -- may seem exploitative from the outside, but it's just the reality of having an autistic sibling. To cut away would be a cheat, to sentimentalize, a fraud. This is her sister, in all her complexity. Her name is Sabine.