My Left Foot

The remarkable Daniel Day-Lewis plays the remarkable Christy Brown, an Irishman born with a severe case of cerebral palsy who eventually taught himself to paint and write with his left foot, in a film adapted by director Jim Sheridan and Shane Connaughton from Brown’s autobiography. Far from milking this subject for conventional sentimentality, the filmmakers use it as the basis for an engaging and idiosyncratic character study. Lewis’s performance is necessarily a bit showy–one has to strain at times to understand all his dialogue because of the character’s contorted features–but he puts on a terrific drunk scene, and for all his character’s travails, the film as a whole winds up as surprisingly upbeat. With Brenda Fricker (also very fine) as Brown’s mother, Alison Whelan, Kirsten Sheridan, Declan Croghan, Fiona Shaw, and Cyril Cusack. (Esquire)

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