"Autism: The Musical" is a triumph onscreen and off
"Autism: The Musical," a documentary directed and photographed by Tricia Regan. 94 minutes. Not rated; contains brief language. Grand Illusion, through Sunday...
Special to The Seattle Times
Movie review"Autism: The Musical," a documentary directed and photographed by Tricia Regan. 94 minutes. Not rated; contains brief language. Grand Illusion, through Sunday. Q&A sessions with family members involved in the film will follow the 3, 5 and 7 p.m. Sunday showings.
The kids in "Autism: The Musical" deserve a standing ovation, right along with their parents. The musical-comedy revue that they perform near the end of Tricia Regan's remarkable film is the culmination of a six-month "Miracle Project" program founded and directed in Los Angeles by Elaine Hall, the mother of an autistic child.
Focusing on parental perspectives and the unique challenges faced by five autistic children as they prepare for their stage debut, Regan structures her film as a revelatory character study, with all the joy and heartbreak you'd expect from a Hollywood tearjerker. But "Autism: The Musical" is anything but maudlin: It's an eyes-wide-open account of tenacity and triumph for parents and children alike. Considering the dramatic rise in the number of children born with autism, it's a film that everyone should see and appreciate.
One of the performers (a bright kid with Asberger's Syndrome) is the son of musician Stephen Stills, but any hint of celebrity is downplayed by Regan's careful attention to personalities and progress. By the time the kids arrive for their red-carpet premiere, we've entered their world as rewardingly as they've emerged into ours.
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