July 1, 2016
If only every child had Owen Suskind’s parents and older brother, then the world would be a more hopeful place for all. A seemingly well adjusted child, Owen stopped speaking at the age of three. Distraught, his parents consulted one doctor after another, desperately trying to reach him. The father, Ron Siskin, the New York Times best seller, and his wife, were determined to find solutions.
Throughout his life, Owen found solace and discovered life-lessons in Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. Very slowly, over time, Owen’s silence began to find words. Of course, this did not happen easily, Owen has access to some of the finest instructors, physical therapists and psychologists, on top of parents who breathed their own lives into him.
Impossible as it sounds, the Suskinds worked very hard to keep Owen mainstreamed in school. After Owen begins elementary school, everyone realizes that his first words are quotes from Disney films. Remarkably, Owen’s winning personality makes him an adored student body member, and he finds his own club of people sharing his infatuation for Disney films.
Much of the archival film is shot by Mr. Suskind with his own film camera, sort of a documentation of his children growing up. The film itself picks up later in Owen’s life and shows him leaving his parents’ house for an assisted living situation. It’s thrilling to see this young man actually enter his own apartment. And once in the unit, he meets a young lady who he dates for a bit.
Roger Ross Williams’ documentary offers hope. Hope that Owen will not only find a way to live with guidance, but also, find love. However, there will never be any love greater than that demonstrated by his parents.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis