Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama
  • 1986
  • 199 mins

Children Of A Lesser God

Children Of A Lesser God

Synopsis

Ground-breaking drama that put deaf actress Marlee Martin on an equal footing with co-star William Hurt

About

In some ways, Children Of The Lesser God is rather like one of those British supertrains from the 1970s: it heralded a future that never came. Here was an Oscar-friendly Hollywood movie built around a disability that for once had the decency to cast actors who happened to have that disability, rather than reward an able-bodied star for their heart-tugging, mugging-heavy turn.

Since the release of the film, there have been more stars than ever having a go at acting from wheelchairs or playing at mental illness. And Marlee Martin, an Oscar-winner at 21, is - apart from a good stint on 'The West Wing' - destined to be half-remembered as that "beautiful deaf girl".

The film itself treads a line between radical campaigning and mainstream movie making. The political point is that Sarah (Martin) refuses to learn talking and lip-reading, because with signing she already has a language that serves her well. Hurt, then having his moment as a big star, is the hippy teacher who falls in love with her while trying to convince her to compromise with the hearing world.

They are both superb, which compensates for occasional missteps in the filmmaking. Having Hurt say out loud everything that Martin signs, for instance, is an inelegant way out of the problem of her dialogue. But this is also a film with a manifest desire to do the right thing that should not be mocked. It's worth remembering that sincere films like this were every bit as representative of what Hollywood was doing in the mid-1980s as Top Gun.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Philip Bosco, Marlee Matlin, John F Cleary, Piper Laurie, William Hurt, Allison Gompf
  • Director: Randa Haines
  • Writer: Mark Medoff, Hesper Anderson
  • Producer: Burt Sugarman, Patrick Palmer
  • Photographer: John Seale
  • Composer: Michael Convertino

In a nutshell

A sappy but often genuinely moving and angry film about love, life and deafness.

by Mark Morris

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Suffragette

    Suffragette

    Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter star in Sarah Gavron's drama about the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement

  • Film4 Notorious

    Notorious

    The story of the life and death of Chris Wallace, known to his fans as the legendary rap artist Notorious B.I.G.

  • Film4

    Saoirse Ronan on Arrietty

    The actress talks about lending her voice to the Studio Ghibli adventure

  • Film4 Hope Springs

    Hope Springs on Film4

    Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as a married couple who turn to Steve Carell's therapist for help with spicing things up in David Frankel's authentic comedy-drama on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Dark Horse: Welsh Premiere Announced

    [caption id="attachment_4385" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance[/caption] Sundance Award winner Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream A

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Bobcat Goldthwait on God Bless America

    "To me, the best part about being famous is taking down phonies..." As God Bless America receives its UK TV premiere on Film4, writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait (World¿s Greatest Dad, Willow Creek) lo

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share