A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Some challenges can't be overcome, but they can be accepted and appreciated.
Positive Role Models
A dedicated teacher tries to bring humor, music, and dancing to help his deaf students learn to express themselves. A young woman who is deaf from birth strives to overcome hurt and rejection by family members. She struggles to achieve independence and to allow love to be part of her life.
Violence & Scariness
An angry woman throws things.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man and woman kiss and strip in a swimming pool. No body parts are shown. A deaf woman speaks of having had sex with a string of teenaged boys her hearing sister had introduced her to. Deaf boys talk about learning to speak well in order to pick up hearing girls. A woman swims nude and is seen from behind in the water. Adults have sex but no nudity is shown
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"F--k," "s--t," "ass," "schmuck," "damn," and "d--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Children of a Lesser God is a 1986 drama featuring a relationship between a hearing teacher at a school for the deaf and a deaf woman who works there. The film is based on a successful Broadway play by Mark Medoff that looks the difficulties of people from different worlds trying to share their lives. The secondary drama opens a window on views within the deaf community regarding the need to learn to vocalize to adopt to the hearing world as opposed to using sign language alone. A woman swims nude and is seen from behind. Adults have sex but no nudity is shown. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," and "d--k." Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.