Children of a Lesser God (1986)

R   |    |  Drama, Romance


Children of a Lesser God (1986) Poster

A new speech teacher at a school for the deaf falls in love with the janitor, a deaf woman speechless by choice.


7.2/10
14,529

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6 November 1999 | BlackBird
A film about hearing oppression of Deafness
William Hurt plays a speech therapist, James Leeds, a gifted teacher. His success in his field has not prevented him from being an egotist, anddisrespecting other cultures.

Marlee Matlin plays a Deaf woman, Sarah Lee, who's damaging family experience has caused her to become so angry that even though she is an intelligent, sassy, sensual, independent woman, she prefers to mop floors in her old school.

Sarah is contrasted with the other Deaf people who are working on their speech. Although he signs, James is highly dogmatic about the primary necessity of speech. The other Deaf people come across as disabled in comparison, their speech flawed compared to Sarah's eloquent and expressive signing. Their vocabulary is basic; in one scene their attempt at signing delights the hearing audience as they imagine the Deaf kids getting closer to being "normal".

James falls in love with Sarah's strong and commanding personality, but paradoxically still treats her in a patronising way, aiming to "improve" her by working on her speech. It becomes a battle of wills between them as Sarah seeks to have autonomy over her preferred medium of communication.

Even so, the dynamic of the relationship spurs Sarah on beyond the narrow horizons of her menial job.

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