Film Pop: My Left Foot

Year:  1989
Director:  Jim Sheridan
Stars:  Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Fiona Shaw

It might seem odd, but the reason I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks is because I’ve been away from work – this blog was in fact born out of the necessity to fill my time at work, whereas at home I spend more of my time engaging in the activities I blog about.  I’ve been spending a lot of my recent hours reading, perhaps related to the fact that my accessible DVD collection had gone a bit stale, being cut off from the master assemblage at my dad’s house several hours away by train.  A painful visit therefore was tempered by the chance to pick up a number of movies I’ve been recently keen to watch; I’ve been dying to see My Left Foot for ages, and I’m more than glad I finally got round to it.

In this debut film from Irish director Jim Sheridan, Day-Lewis excels as Christy Brown, the real-life artist born with MV5BMTY5MTU1ODY4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzkyMDUxMDE@__V1__SX640_SY720_cerebral palsy and only able to fully control his left foot.  Adapted from Brown’s autobiography of the same name, the film shows the writer’s life up until the present day, where he is about to make an appearance at a charity event. Christy Brown is born, severely disabled, into a working-class Irish family in 1932.  His parents refuse to send him away, determined to bring him up themselves, although it is not until much later that his father (Ray McAnally) truly accepts him as one of the family.  Despite the family’s poverty, Christy is eventually upgraded from a barrow to a wheelchair thanks to the secret savings of his mother (Fricker).  She then introduces him to Dr. Eileen Cole (Shaw), who helps him realise his potential while giving him hope (wrongly, according to his parents).  Christy is somewhat overwhelmed by his new-found independence, struggling with drink and low self-worth.  Following the death of his father, Christy begins to write the autobiography which he is to present.

My Left Foot is an excellent film, even if it doesn’t exactly deliver the “story about life, laughing and the occasional miracle” that the box promises.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an uplifting and inspiring account, but it’s nowhere near as cheery and upbeat as this suggests.  Unsurprisingly the plaudits belong almost entirely to Day-Lewis, who produces a characteristically involved performance which led to his first Best Actor Oscar (and a couple of broken ribs).  Fricker also gives a performance worthy of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay at the 62nd Academy Awards.  Although the performances do perhaps overshadow the film a little (I myself picked up the DVD mostly to see Day-Lewis), it’s undoubtedly a good movie on its own merit as the inspiring tale of a man’s triumph over the adversities piled on him by birth.

So overall I consider My Left Foot to be something anyone should watch, as long as you’re prepared to journey through a rather dark tunnel waiting for the inevitable light at the end.  Daniel Day-Lewis’s turn as Christy Brown is certainly not to be missed and in truth is worth the watch alone, but aside from that it’s a commendable film on its own and deserves all the awards and nominations it received.

My Rating: 8/10


4 thoughts on “Film Pop: My Left Foot”

  1. We all know now that DDL is one of the best actors working today, but back in 1989, he was just another talented guy waiting to break-out. He finally got his chance to with this and we’re better as a society for it. Good review Dan.

    1. I kind of wish he was in more films, but it’s understandable that he’s not considering how much he devotes to every role. I still haven’t managed to see Lincoln, but it’s high on my list and might be the next film I buy.

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