Not Letting Tourette's Win

I knew one thing, I didn't want to be like them - Brad

James Wolk in Front of the Class (2008)

As a child Brad Cohen (Dominic Scott Kay/James Wolk) started to make weird noises and exhibiting various tics which his dad struggled to deal with as he thought it was a lack of self control. He also struggled at school whilst having to deal with psychiatrists who go along with what his dad says. That is until his mum takes it upon herself to look into things herself and discovers that Brad has Tourette's Syndrome. When Brad comes across a teacher who understands his condition it inspires him that one day he too will be a teacher and not to let anyone who would mock him get in his way.

There is a type of movie which I come across once in a while where I just feel like saying watch the movie and you will understand. "Front of the Class" is exactly one of those movies which I could sit here and write paragraph after paragraph about and still fail to do justice to this story because whilst I can go to great lengths to tell you what happens the movie's power is in its delivery, in its characterisations, in the tone of a scene which you just can't bring to the paper or in this case the screen.

Patricia Heaton in Front of the Class (2008)

But let me give you a run down of some of the things you will see in "Front of the Class"; you will see how difficult it is for parents to deal with a child with Tourette's when they haven't been diagnosed as it is hard to understand and be patient when it just seems to be a child playing up and having no control. We see how some people with Tourette's have succumbed to their condition and not even trying to be part of society because of other's ignorance and the stigma. Of course we also see how others react to Brad's involuntary outbursts, the staring and looks of anger from others. But we also see how Brad deals with his Tourette's, living with it, explaining it in a simple way and never letting it beat him, even making light of it to make others feel at ease.

So yes what we basically get is a look at the life of Brad Cohen from a child before his mum discovered what his condition was right through to adulthood and his unwavering determination to become a teacher, putting himself in a situation and under pressure as he goes from one interview after another. A big reason for why this works is a brilliant performances from James Wolk who not only gets the physicality right but the characters tone and emotion to make him someone to like, to champion and to get behind every ounce of the way from dealing with his dad to dealing with ignorant teachers.

What this all boils down to is that "Front of the Class" is another one of those movies where you need to experience it to understand and appreciate how special it is. Yes it is a made for TV movie and it has that inspirational TV movie style but don't let that put you off as it only takes a minute for it to grab you and then from then on it never lets go.

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