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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Left Foot is based on the memoir of Christy Brown, an Irish author and artist born with cerebral palsy in early '30s Dublin. Gritty and sometimes difficult to watch, the movie is ultimately uplifting, with positive messages about overcoming adversity and about people with physical differences or challenges being human, just like anyone. There are a few fights with punches and kicks but no blood or gore. A picture of a fully nude woman is on-screen for a second or two, and tweens speculate about sex and babies briefly. Other sexual content includes a teen pregnancy and Brown's longing for romance. Strong language includes occasional use of "f--k," and "bitch," "bastard," and "ass" are used once each. A few scenes take place in pubs where people drink and smoke, and Christy drinks to excess two or three times.
What's the story?
In MY LEFT FOOT, Christy Brown (Daniel Day Lewis) looks back on his life, which began in 1930s Dublin when he was born with cerebral palsy into a large, working-class family. Not expected to survive long, and largely written off as mentally and physically challenged, Christy finds a way to show the world, through painting and later writing, that his mind and heart are just like anyone else's. As he grows into adulthood and achieves artistic success, he longs for love and romance and endures heartbreak along the way. Will he find someone willing to take him on?
Is it any good?
This film astonishes, tugs at the heartstrings, wrenches the gut, tickles the funny bone, and ultimately restores the viewer's faith in humanity. My Left Foot rocketed Daniel Day-Lewis to stardom, and he's splendidly supported by a strong cast, especially the sublime Brenda Fricker as his mother and Hugh O'Conor, who more than holds his own as young Christy. Director Jim Sheridan doesn't judge but doesn't flinch either, creating a realistic and fairly neutral backdrop against which his cast and his story can really shine. Teens who can handle the salty language will learn a lot about physical differences, family bonds and loyalty, working-class Dublin, and the triumph of the human spirit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies made from someone's memoir. Does My Left Foot show a balanced view of events, or are events shown mostly from a certain point of view?
What do you think Christy's life would have been like, and what could he achieved, without his mother? How did she influence Christy and everyone else?
Imagine that the only part of your body you could accurately control was one foot. How much do you think you could accomplish in life, and how would you go about it?
- In theaters: March 30, 1989
- On DVD or streaming: August 16, 2005
- Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Fiona Shaw
- Director: Jim Sheridan
- Studios: Ferndale Films, Granada Television, Radio Telefis Eireann
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Compassion, Courage, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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