David's Mother (1994)

David's Mother (1994)
 
 

Being Mum

Kirstie Alley in David's Mother (1994)

"David's Mother" is the story of Sally Goodson (Kirstie Alley - Deadly Pursuit) the mother of the severely autistic David (Michael A. Goorjian) who has been her whole life ever since he was born. We see how over the years her love of David has lead to her marriage breaking down, her daughter leaving to have her own life and has turned her into a bitter and sarcastic person who finds herself at war with child services who want David in a special care system. It also makes her antagonistic when her sister Bea (Stockard Channing - Six Degrees of Separation) has her go on a date with John Nils (Sam Waterston - I'll Fly Away: Then and Now) who patiently tries to help Sally see that maybe she is holding David back through her devotion to him.

"David's Mother" is a movie which clearly has its heart in the right place in its portrayal of what life can be like for a parent raising a severely autistic child. Through a storyline mainly based in the now but mixed with various flashbacks we see how Sally went from a classy looking wife and mother of two to a single mum who hides her bitterness by being sarcastic and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. And it is effective because not only do we see various key moments from her husband walking out to learning she has not even spoken to her daughter in years it shows how demanding and life changing raising a severely autistic child can be.

Sam Waterston in David's Mother (1994)

At the same time "David's Mother" also shows that all of this loss no longer matters because of Sally's love for David and how David has defined her life. This comes through in the fact that she can't see how anyone else can do a better job than her when it comes to caring for David to the point she wouldn't know what to do if David wasn't in her life.

But for me "David's Mother" has a problem and it is the casting in fact it is just one actor because Sam Waterston, Stockard Channing and Michael A. Goorjian are all good but Kirstie Alley is too much. The bitter sarcasm is too funny, too quick and too often making her a difficult character to warm to even though her character does transform over the course of the movie. In fact for me I would have preferred to watch Stockard Channing in the main role.

What this all boils down to is that "David's Mother" is a good movie and a good look at the difficulties of raising a severely autistic child and how it can change you. But it does suffer because of Kirstie Alley's characterisation being too sarcastic and quick with a bitter put down.

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