Children of a Lesser God (1986) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

There is nothing much new to do with the story of a relationship between one "normal" person and one with some kind of otherness - in this case, deafness. This is not an exceptionally groundbreaking film, but it is a sensitive story about the effort of a language teacher and a deaf person to communicate with each other in some way that allows them equality and full partnership.
It's difficult to recall a case where a film did so much for one person. Before this movie, Marlee Matlin had never worked in a film in any capacity, and the only adult acting she had done at all was in a minor role in the stage version of Children of a Lesser God.

In the film version, she got a shot at the lead, and ended up winning the Best Actress Oscar.


Marlee Matlin goes skinny dipping twice. Although her nipples are never seen, there are beautiful shots of her buns underwater.
Of course, this guaranteed her overnight fame, but she never really managed to follow up the success of this film. She really is deaf, of course, and the number of appropriate roles was limited by the requirements of box office appeal. She got what seemed like another chance in 1993's custom-designed "Hear No Evil", but that just turned out to be yet another dishwater-dull thriller, albeit with a new gimmick. So Marlee Matlin has languished in career limbo for about 15 years now - an extraordinarily talented and beautiful actress who never really found the roles she needed to perpetuate her stardom.

DVD info from Amazon.

It's a good transfer, anamorphic widescreen enhanced for 16x9 screens, but no features at all except the original trailer.

This film is positioned in a very difficult niche. If it were cleaned up only a hair, it would be a terrific movie to watch with your kids. The nude scene is brief and very tasteful, but the language is rough enough that the film is rated "R".

Yet it is really a family movie at heart.

It seems like a shame that kids can't see it, because a lot of the film's set pieces would really resonate with kids and teens, and would provide them edification as well.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: between three stars. Ebert 3/4, Maltin 3/4, Apollo 73.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.0/10, Apollo users 74/100.
  • With their dollars ... it did moderately well. $31 million was respectable by 1986 standards. The film placed 34th in that year's box office totals.

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