Over the years HBO has continued to produced outstanding mini-series and made-for-TV movies that rapidly became the benchmark for which all other television productions are judged. While many of their films focus on prominent historical figures such as John Adams, Elizabeth I and Franklin Roosevelt, from time to time they release a movie on lesser-known, but nevertheless, important figures such as, most recently, Jack Kevorkian and Temple Grandin.
About Temple Grandin
Grandin is autistic and grew up in the 1950s and 60s. At the beginning of the series, Temple is four and still not talking. Her mother (Julia Ormond, Legends of the Fall) is told by a psychiatrist that autism is caused by lack of maternal affection and the only cure is permanent institutionalism. Distraught, Mrs. Grandin immediately begins private lessons, therapy and special schools for her daughter (played as a teenager and adult by Claire Danes, Romeo + Juliet). At age 18, Temple is an odd, but functioning and curious individual. While at her aunt's (Catherine O'Hara, Best in Show) ranch one summer, Temple takes an immediate liking to horses and livestock which would be the foundation for her many accomplishments to come in regards to slaughterhouses and cattle herding. In college and graduate school she is met with adversity on account of her condition, but nevertheless overcomes each obstacle with a better insight into both herself and others.
A Take on the Film
The film is like most HBO productions: beautifully filmed, brilliantly written and directed and, of course, compellingly acted. Grandin's autism is handled respectfully and without sentimentality, more so than most movies that deal with such topics. This is largely due to Danes' exceptional performance. The actress disappears into her role without turning Grandin into a mere caricature. She's aptly supported by O'Hara, David Strathairn (as a kindly science teacher who sees the potential within Temple) and the incredible Ormond. Anyone who is interested in Grandin, livestock, autism or just a well made, moving story definitely will enjoy Temple Grandin.