103 Min. | Biography – Drama | April 1989
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Jim Sheridan
Staring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison Whelan
My Left Foot Review: Daniel Day-Lewis is Christy Brown, a victim of cerebral palsy who uses “My Left Foot” to write and paint in this incredible 1989 film. The movie also stars Brenda Fricker as Christy’s mother, Ray McAnally, Fiona Shaw and Hugh O’Conor. Their brilliant performances, great script and wonderful direction by Jim Sheridan help to paint a vivid portrait of Christy Brown, an artist and writer who died in 1981 at the age of 49. Brown was born into a lower middle-class Catholic family where his mother was constantly pregnant (22 children in total, 13 of whom survived). His father considered Christy mentally retarded as well as physically handicapped, but he would not permit his son to go into a home. The children in the family would bid goodbye to him each day as they went off to school, and then his mother would feed him and talk to him.
In My Left Foot, Fricker conveys the sense of a woman who, despite being surrounded by a huge family, needs someone to talk to. Christy doesn’t talk back. Eventually a cart is found for him to ride in, and the neighborhood kids, all of whom have known him since he was a baby, include him in all of their activities. The only part of his body that works really well is his left foot, and when the kids find out how well he kicks, they put him into soccer games for just that purpose. One of the nicest parts of My Left Foot is the relaxed way the in which the other children treat him. There are many powerful scenes, but none as powerful as Christy writing “Mother” on the floor holding a piece of chalk between his toes. “He’s a true Brown,” his father declares, hoisting him on his shoulders and carrying him to the pub. Walking into the pub, he announces, “My son’s a genius.”
Brenda Fricker is amazing as Christy’s mother, who never stops believing in him and what he can do and who holds her family and husband together during the hard times. The wonderful thing about Fricker’s performance is that the support, love and work ethic seem to come naturally to the mother. The character would never consider herself a heroine or as someone doing something out of the ordinary. Fricker shows us a religious but not fanatic woman who believes her duties on earth are to be a good wife and mother. And no matter what, even when her husband is out of work, throws their daughter out of the house for being pregnant, whatever, she manages. She saves money for Christy’s wheelchair, she receives photos of her daughter and the baby, she starts building a room for Christy in the back of the house. All part of a day’s work. A performance worthy of the Oscar she received. Brown’s life was more complicated than this inspiring film, but My Left Foot is an amazing achievement by all involved and a must-see.