Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Fiona Shaw
Directed by Jim Sheridan
“My Left Foot” is an inspiring true story about an Irish author and painter with cerebral palsy. Daniel Day-Lewis portrays Christy Brown, the man who could only control his left leg. Gripping a paintbrush between toes, Brown had the talent to paint and eventually became an exceptional artist.
Upon his birth the doctor told Brown’s parents Christy had severe cerebral palsy. His parents were determined to raise Christy at home among his other siblings. In his adolescence, Christy showed signs of communication by using chalk to write with his left foot. In the film, Dr. Eileen helped Christy enunciate better so he could have proper conversations with people. His mother always cared for him, but his father was clearly happy to be able to understand his son.
Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his performance as Christy Brown. Watching the movie, Hugh O’Conor who played Christy as a boy should have also won an Oscar or gotten attention for his performance. As a child actor playing a difficult role, it was impressive how well he was able to act as a child with cerebral palsy. Lewis’ role as adult Christy was more intense, but O’Conor showed serious skill to convince the audience he had Christy’s condition.
Lewis’ role as Christy was heartbreaking. “My Left Foot” covers the majority of Brown’s life, from his struggles of being unable to communicate to the frustration of falling in love. It’s inspiring to see how someone who is told he can’t have a life be able to do the opposite. Brown was a very talented man. He was an artist, he published an autobiography, four novels, and a collection of poems. In addition, he did get married but the movie had a happier ending for Brown than his real life did.
Watching this movie reminded me of another incredibly true story, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly“. That story is about a French magazine editor who suffered a stroke and had “locked-in” syndrome, meaning he could not control his body. Only his mind and eyes could function, he could blink his left eye, and during his stay in the hospital created an autobiography with the help of a nurse.
I would recommend giving “My Left Foot” a watch. It’s a true story with amazing performances and is eye-opening about cerebral palsy. It’s a portrayal of what it’s like to live a life with this condition, and how hard it was growing up in the mid-1900’s in a big working-class family in Dublin, Ireland.