Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Ficker, Alison Whelan
Director: Jim Sheridan
Running Time: 103 mins
My Left Foot is an Irish film about the story of Christy Brown, a man born with cerebral palsy who taught himself to paint with his only controllable limb, his left foot, and became a celebrated artist as a result.
This is a pretty heavy-going drama, and it’s a well-written, well-acted and sensitively-treated story in that respect. The struggle of Christy Brown is thoroughly intriguing, even though he’s not the most likeable character ever, and it is genuinely emotive throughout, although it does often stray into melodramatic territory where everything becomes a little too much.
The best thing about this film, however, is the story and screenplay. It is a very Oscar bait-ish sort of a film, but it manages to keep you interested in the characters very well despite it being very suspicious of looking to the Academy for praise. The most interesting thing about the story is how it’s structured, with it being told through Brown’s helper, reading his autobiography later on in his life when he has become a success. This works very well in the film because it lightens the atmosphere of the flashbacks, which are on the whole quite heavy-going, and gives you hope that things will turn out for the best for this man.
And there’s little to criticise about the development of the story itself, although it is possible to suggest that the finale was a little too long, and wasn’t anywhere near as interesting as the main bulk of the story.
Another good thing about this film is Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance. Again, it may seem like the sort of thing really geared towards an Oscar win (which it did manage), however Day-Lewis still does an admirable job in the role, really making the man’s disability apparent at all times, but also showing a real emotional development in him as life goes on, which was one of the most interesting and inspiring parts of the film.
However, the problem with Day-Lewis’ performance, and a lot of the film as a whole, is that it does go a little bit over-the-top at times. There’s no doubt that it treats the subject very sensitively and respectfully, but it really feels like at times the atmosphere of the film becomes less historical, and just excessively emotional and melodramatic, which was on occasion quite frustrating to watch because it just did feel a bit too much like Oscar bait.
Anyway, that’s not too big a problem, overall this film is an intriguing and strong telling of an inspiring tale, and that’s why it gets a 7.4 from me.