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Parents' Guide to

Children of a Lesser God

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

'80s love story has some strong language, sex.

Movie R 1986 119 minutes
Children of a Lesser God Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+

Deep, heartbreaking and beautiful.

First, this is an 80’s movie, so keep that in mind when considering content (ratings and viewpoints were different 40 yrs ago). The movie is so touching and well-acted, so it’s one of my favorites. It hits on heavy themes, though, and you should expect to have conversations with your kids afterwards. E.g., the adults are flawed and human. To me it’s definitely worth seeing just for the messages about understanding the deaf community. It’s the kind of drama that stays with you for a lifetime.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Director Randa Haines lyrically tells a compelling story, nudging us to both understand the gift of hearing and also to consider the "gift" of deafness. The lively intelligence of the students at the deaf academy and the joy many seem to experience may not capture what life is like for those who can't afford the luxury of such an education, but Children of a Lesser God isn't a treatise on issues in the deaf world. The focus, however impractical, is on love and poetry and how people from different worlds can meet each other halfway if they try. Critics have viewed the film as an example of the wrong way to view deafness, as a disability to be "cured," and for omitting the views of a cohort of deaf people who don't want to be "mainstreamed." When Sarah does well at a gathering of hearing people, everyone praises James for how well she's doing, as if Sarah is a poodle only a hearing person could have trained so well.

William Hurt is magnetic here, pouring on the charm and winsomeness. He does so despite the fact that his job is also to keep us in the drama as he often speaks both halves of a dialogue, translating sign language to the audience. First-time screen actor Marlee Matlin is all the more impressive for standing up to Hurt's powerful performance. At 21 she is a riveting and fierce presence and exudes a sense of what it is to survive a painful past. Without words she gives us a picture of someone's inner life poignantly and vividly. That effort was rewarded with a Best Actress Oscar. The performances alone are worth the price of admission.

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