Finding Parents for my Children
There was almost a comical routine to Lucile Fray's (Ann-Margret) life as her husband would regularly disappear for a few days drinking with his buddies whilst she was normally pregnant and dealing with their ever increasing brood of children. But after their latest child in the autumn of 1952 Lucille noticed a lump in her breast whilst she was breast feeding leading her to the hospital and a diagnosis of breast cancer. With 10 children to think about and her husband Ivan (Frederic Forrest) not being the most reliable of men as he struggles with her diagnosis Lucille takes the tough decision to find new parents for her children before she is too sick to be able to and the State would take over and put them in homes or in the case of her son with epilepsy in an institution.
Over time I have come to the decision that some movies had a moment, a time where they worked for the audience at that point in time but lacked power for those who come across them later. Now you might be thinking well of course that is the case but it is more complicated than that and "Who Will Love My Children?" is a good example of such a case. Here is a movie which clearly has touched many who watched it back in 1983 and has also touched some who have stumbled across it since. But then there is me and I have watched a few other movies about a woman dying and who is trying to find a home for their children or someone to replace them in their husband's life and the impact of this movie is not so great.
But before you think I may be about to rip into "Who Will Love My Children?" I am not. But what I am going to say is that it didn't touch me in the same way as it has others. The acting from all those concerned is solid with for me Frederic Forrest being the unsung hero of the movie as he plays a troubled man, struggling with arthritis and the fact that he has no control of what is going on when it comes to Lucile's sickness but also his family being torn apart. But there just seems to be something too restrained about it all, no real emotion and despair which I am sure all those involved in the real story, yes this is a true story movie, would have been feeling. Yes we get to see that the children didn't want to leave but we don't really witness the trauma of this change in their lives.
I think the issue I have with "Who Will Love My Children?" is not that they have turned it into a typical sentimental tear jerker as they haven't but at times it feels too sanitized with many of what I am sure were very emotional times not coming across that way. Think about it as there must have been great emotional pain for not just Lucile but also Ivan and their children but rarely does that get shown. There also must have been plenty of tension and arguments between Lucile and Ivan when it came to the children but we only get a brief glimpse of any conflict.
What this all boils down to is that "Who Will Love My Children?" is certainly a well made movie but despite its emotional true story is very much a movie of its era with the emotion toned down so that it isn't too heavy.