It’s rare to find a film about people with disabilities that allows them to be the stars of their own story, rather than an opportunity for growth in someone else’s. That’s a major strength of director Roger Ross Williams’ profile of Owen Suskind, a 23-year-old Massachusetts man living with autism, and making his first tentative steps towards independent living. The narrative hook involves the way his parents, Ron and Cornelia, finally began to connect with Owen through his love of Disney animated features, and the film does an effective job of conveying the way those archetypal stories served as a bridge for Owen understanding his own world. But while the flashbacks to Owen’s youth are necessary to lay the foundation, they’re also a bit of a distraction from the present-day reality of Owen learning to deal with the business of being an adult that most of us take for granted, from getting a job to coping with heartbreak. The lovely animated interludes by Mac Guff may show how Owen saw himself as “protector of the sidekicks,” but here we get to see him as unique, fully human hero.
Director: Roger Williams
Producer: Roger Williams, Julie Goldman, Molly Thompson, Robert DeBitetto, Robert Sharenow and Ron Suskind
Cast: Owen Suskind and Ron Suskind