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  • Finally, a film which portrays autism with some realism. this film describes the challenges of raising a disabled child, how it may affect family relations, and its rewards. David is severely autistic. He has no savant skills (Hollywood's usual obsession with the disorder), think Rain Man; similarly there is no 'miracle cure' offered. For other autism films which are far less accurate and therefore damaging, see: Mercury Rising, Silent Fall, Molly, House of Cards, I am Sam, The Pit. A generally well acted film. Kirstie Alley is excellent. Stockard Channing has her moments, but regularly verges on serious over-acting. Sam Waterson, if not actually autistic himself (surely he is!?) is amazing. Well worth a watch, particularly if only to find an alternative to the inaccurate representations of autism which Hollywood thrives on.
  • Dealing with an autistic child, his demand for the family's attention, and their inability to focus their lives on anything other than this child. Realistic rather than sentimental, an unpleasant topic successfully presented with first-rate editing, acting and direction. Kirstie Alley, as the child's harried mom, comes up with a mesmerizing and utterly convincing portrayal.
  • starlette11226 October 2003
    this is one of the best movies i have EVER seen. not just tv movie. movie period. go to amazon. go to ebay. and buy this movie. its absolutly brilliant. and kirstie alley is indescrible..

    kirstie alley plays sally goodson. a lonely,self deprecating woman that has spent her whole life taking..well the last 16 years of her life taking care of her autistic son david. over those years shes let go of things she didnt mean to. her marriage,her life,and even her older daughter all because she wanted to tend to her sons everyday needs. not only because she liked it,but because it made her feel like a whole person. thats something shes never felt before. Her sister played by stockard channing decides that she needs to meet people and get out more so she introduces her to John,played by Sam Waterson. He wants to help her,and love her but shes afraid...shes afraid to love someone and get intimate and she doesnt want anyone to help her take care of david. While this going on a social worker catches up with the fact that david needs to be in a home,or a place to take better care of him that sally is. Theres just so much she can do to help him. Shes trying to prevent this from happening because the last thing she wants is to loose him,she would fall apart..

    I cant tell anyone enough about this movie and most importantly about kirstie alley. shes my favorite actress ever and in this movie you really can see what she can do. just coming off of cheers in 1994 when this movie was made she recieved a well deserved emmy. i beg you to see this movie. its amazing.
  • Kirstie Alley won an Emmy for her performance in DAVID'S MOTHER, an uncompromising look at a blue-collar, boorish mother, who seems to be at a total loss at how to deal with her autistic son. Alley, cast against type, loses herself in this role of an uneducated, trailer-trash kind of mother who wants to love and help her son but is never really quite sure about what she should be doing for him. The always reliable Stockard Channing is also featured as her snobbish sister and Sam Waterston is charming as a man Alley gets involved with but this is Alley's movie and she forsakes any pretense of glamor to realistically portray an unsympathetic character in a difficult situation who somehow still manages to make us feel for her even though we know that a lot of what this woman does and feels is just wrong. Alley makes the most of a rather unpleasant role and gave us a memorable television experience, light years away from her role as Rebecca Howe on CHEERS.
  • I am watching this film at the moment on channel 61, At the point where Sally and John have the row about her leaving and not telling him, the actor changes and so does his clothes! Suddenly a much younger man is in place of John wearing a white cable knit sweater. This happens three times and then Sally becomes a younger version of herself, different hairstyle, makeup and clothes!

    I am puzzled as to how this film, that has received such great reviews and nominations for the acting, can be so badly edited. I have found this so distracting I had to break away and look the film up to see if anyone else has noticed this.

    Otherwise, it is a good film but I am being penickity perhaps.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    David's Mother is such a beautiful film. While I tend to agree that most made for TV movies are terribly weak and mediocre, but when they are good they're brilliant. I'd only say that about one in a thousand are as great as this one, people that like to think of them all the same have obviously never seen one like it. In terms of pure heartfelt emotion and genuine portrayals of human beings, in my opinion it's superior to most epic Hollywood dramas. To me the acting was great all around- Stockard Channing was good as the better-off but loving sister who fears for Sally's future but is gradually losing her patience, although she kind of overdoes it in a few scenes. I thought Sam Waterson was brilliant as a kind and sweet friend to Sally and David. I love him in the scene where he takes a firm hand to David and forces him to stop tantruming like a baby and learn how to press the damn button! They also made great use of Chris Sarandon. The flashback scene that shows how he removed himself out of the picture and Sally's life was very powerful and heartbreaking-I had teary eyes! Even the girl that played Sally's fiery daughter was very memorable and played her small part really well. She was more than a match for Alley's wit. I love a comical scene where they have a silly little slapping match over a phone call! ::: Michael Goorjian was just phenomenal in his rather demanding role. I've seen him in one or two other things, but nothing even approaching the moving performance he gives here. What can you say? He *is* that character, he seems a hundred percent absolutely real. If you were to see him in the street, you'd probably stare and think it was real. In fact, a few times in the picture you can see members of the public doing just that! When I first saw this I was mesmerized by him. He doesn't speak a word yet speaks volumes with his silence. I think he's his best in the final scene where he's all worked up and upset at the forced separation-which may be hurting him then, but is really all for the best. There's just one teensy little 'goof' that he does in the whole thing. During the carousal scene, bless im', he looks right at the camera for a split second! ::: Kistie Alley was also terrific and probably is what makes the film work the most. She's so funny and likable, but you get the sense that this woman has become hardened over the years and knows exactly how to use her sparkling wit to keep people at arm's length, and that she has little time or regard for anyone outside her own little world. She was indeed strong to take on the burden all by herself, but also such a coward, pushing people away and allowing her life to grow ever smaller, until it's just the two of them. She lives only for him, only feeling any self-worth by caring for her precious, poor helpless David, whom she gradually learns over the course of the flick is only as helpless as she allows him to be. And she learns the always difficult decision that, if she really loves him she's got to let him go. Not(as some viewers claim) forever, just long enough to let him grow and learn a little, and they'll both be so much happier for it... That's what makes this movie so great. No offence, but the other reviewers who say this drama and its ending are depressing don't know what they're talking about. It wasn't an institution at the end, and the scene of the two of them walking that plays over the credits isn't showing how it used to be, it's obviously later, showing that she's free to see him whenever she wants. This is a tremendously hopeful film, it once gave me a lot of strength. I love the realistic message that, although sometimes change can be painful at the time, when the worst part's over, then life can truly start to begin. What really was depressing was the rotten situation they were in before. It's frightening how isolated we can become from everything, and it's not as hard as you might think. It's such a great portrayal of hope because it's done in such an honest and true to life way. You can turn it around, y'know? You can have a life, and it can all start with something as small as pressing a button on a VCR! Take care, bye now.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I caught part of this movie by accident when it first came out. I had a four year old daughter and two year old twin sons, one of whom was not normal, a husband who didn't want to be bothered with raising them, and had given up my shop to stay home with the children. I had no idea what was wrong with my son, who was only very slightly developmentally delayed, but was strangely aloof. This movie presented some of my son's oddities, and I was terrified by much of what I saw. I modified some of my behavior with him beginning that day and talked to our doctor, family members and educators I knew about whether he could be autistic. All were sure that he was not, and I deeply regret that I didn't pursue a second or seventieth medical opinion. In kindergarten my son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. I've been a single mother for 14 years now, and my son is generally viewed as quirky and shy rather than disabled: only time will tell how well he will do in the world.

    I can assure you, firsthand, that David's mother would indeed have been far too frazzled and depressed to carry on a relationship with a man even so patently wonderful as Sam Waterston's character (and I've had a crush on Waterston ever since he played Benedict in "Much Ado About Nothing"). I also have a problem with the all-or-nothing ending: David's mom surely should have found a way to see him daily, while allowing him the advantages that trained professionals could offer. But then, I think the same thing about myself.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I actually enjoyed this movie's portrayal of life with a severely autistic child. I loved the mom's mouthy way of dealing with her life and her reality. I could easily relate to her life and the way she was handling things. I could also understand her amazement at finding that her son could do more than she thought he could.

    But having the movie end with her putting her child into an institution and walking out the door.... and her final speech to her son where she tells him that she has been holding him back... that spoiled it for me a bit.

    This movie's very unfortunate message seems to be that it is the mother's fault that her child is autistic and the best thing for autistic children is to go live in an institution and the best thing for moms of autistic children is to put their children in an institution and get out and have a life. There is also a point made that moms who don't want to put their children into an institution are just using their kids to make themselves feel special.

    I believe that this movie is a very good representation of 1994. Kirstie Alley did a fantastic job of conveying the complex emotions involved in raising a child who simultaneously needs her desperately and barely acknowledges her existence.

    The speech that she gave when her husband was leaving her was exactly right. We do what we have to do no matter how hard it is to do. And the unfortunate truth is that most fathers of special needs kids do leave. They can't handle it and they give up, leaving it all to the mother to handle on her own. And by the time some actually nice man comes along who wants to accept and help and be part of the family the mother is so worn out she cannot feel anything except what must be done. The complex combination of hope and despair was beautifully portrayed here.

    I would love to see this movie made again with the same cast but with a different ending. I would like to see the mom find a school that was during the day only to take care of and teach her son and then she could have her days free to pursue her own interests. She could see her son's progress and learn how to help him learn life skills at home. As she begins to relax and have more hope and less despair on a daily basis she becomes able to reconnect with her own self again.

    Of course I love Kirstie Alley, Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston so much I would watch those three do just about anything. It was such a treat to see all three of them together and doing a show about a subject so close to my heart.
  • nicholas.rhodes16 September 2004
    I must confess to a partiality for this type of film and did enjoy this one. However, I found it too much on the negative side and with a too low feelgood factor. I thought that David's "performance" was excellent and extremely realistic ( I am assuming the actor concerned is not autistic in real life ) but I thought that David's mother, as personnified by Kirstie Alley, went a bit over the top. Of course, the situation is difficult to live but one cannot even detect a glimmer of hope in Alley's attitude towards John who was an extremely kind and understanding man and willing to tackle the problem of David. All the mother can do is tell him to get lost ! - it's pushing the negative dramatic element too far in the direction of pessimism. Of course it must be very difficult to bring up a child like David, but one would have thought that John's presence would change things for the better. One saw this very briefly with David learning to operate the VCR but the optimism stops there.

    It's all well and good trying to be acutely realistic and doubtless this film corresponds perfectly to real live situations which have been lived. But I think that Cinema is there to make us dream, albeit only a little in some cases, and the viewer needs some "positive elements" to enable him/her to feel good about watching the film. After all, it IS a film and not a real-life documentary.

    Basically, one is left with a bitter aftertaste in one's mouth because of Kirstie Alley's boorish, offhand and uncompromising attitude with all those around her. One would have expected this attitude of course to dominate initially but to gradually disappear as the story unfolds throughout the film. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case and whilst there is a minimum of gratitude on the part of Alley towards the John element, one feels that deep down she has not really changed that much and intends to continue as before. Big deal !

    So, all in all, good acting ( beautiful actors, John is very handsome and Kirstie Alley, when properly dressed up is pretty sexy ( for me, at least !! ), but an overly negative storyline which could have been improved upon without going too much in the other direction !
  • Although Kirstie Alley is normally a very good actress, in THIS particular production, I found her to be rude, obnoxious, and a down-right SLOB. She is so bitter that she relies on sarcasm to get her through life. Her son is Autistic, she's a Pig....how's that for a summary?

    Her sister (portrayed by the ALWAYS-wonderful Stockard Channing) decides it's time for Kirstie Alley's character to meet a man. This is depsite the fact that her home is a pig-sty and she looks like a bag lady...

    She is introduced to a character named John Nils, portrayed by the EVEN MORE ALWAYS WONDERFUL Sam Waterston. He is sweet, gentle, kind, and bloody beautiful. He tries his heart out to help her change her attitude towards her handicapped child, and give him a chance to get some treatment, as well as enter a program for children with Autism. Of course this enrages Ms. Alley's character. However, after bedding down with Mr. Nils (Mr. Waterston looks divine in a black velour bathrobe), she realizes he's right about her kid - but wrong for her....naaaah. She doesn't love him enough to stay with him. And she decides to tell him this in his store. What a TERRIFIC CHICK this is...of course, he loves HER, so you can see the pain in his eyes when she tells him, for all intents and purposes, that it's over between them...

    In my personal opinion, I was kinda hoping they'd commit HER along with her poor son. She was simply boorish, and of course wasn't helping the poor boy anyway.

    I came away from this with a "yecch" expression. If you're going to put someone opposite the ever kind/generous/loving/extremely talented Sam Waterston, let it NOT be Kirstie Alley. If only they'd allowed Stockard Channing to play the part, the whole movie would've had much more class to it..