It seems like very few films dealing with autism in any aspect hit mainstream audiences. On a few occasions, I’ve browsed through the Wikipedia section on autism films and found that the majority of them are not at all familiar. The only films I’ve heard of and seen are Rain Man and Mary and Max. It was through a WordPress post that I found this film, currently free to watch on Hulu. With those points, I figured I should take a look.
Luke, an autistic man, tries to get a job so that he can get a date and “screw”.
Lou Taylor Pucci’s portrayal as Luke is very well done. I go as far as to say that it rivals Dustin Hoffman’s role as Charlie. The nervousness, the stimming (rocking back and forth), the echolalia, the specific interests, the recall, the social awkwardness, the speech patterns, the need for routine; all of this is there. I give the movie props for having an autistic protagonist.
At the same time, there’s the unpleasant part of reality that is portrayed here. The slurs, the hostility, the lack of understanding, the family problems (sometimes not at all related to Luke) show up. At least Luke does his best to stand up for himself whenever someone drop the r-word but the best others can do is offer a half-hearted apology.
This leads me to Seth Green’s performance. Having only known him from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and some cameos, I was surprised that he’d be in this film. Sure, he’s the abusive, self-centered jerk of a boss holding a position through nepotism but then he used the term “NT”, short for “neurologically typical/neurotypical”.
Now, I have to put my two cents about this scene. I have never personally known someone who is the spectrum to be that harsh. I’m not saying they don’t exist but I haven’t met anyone like that yet. Also, I’ve used the term “NT” but in discussion with close friends, both on and off the spectrum. It’s not offensive but I don’t use it in casual conversation.
With Seth’s role, the reveal was a surprise but the explanation makes sense. If someone made a simulation like what’s featured in the film, they’d make a lot of money. It’d be great for an app or even just a program for special ed classes. But in all honesty, why would someone put a relative in a position of power when they clearly can’t handle it?
The movie isn’t all sunshine and rainbows as Luke does have some letdowns. I actually like it that way as it doesn’t give Luke a 100% success rate just because he’s autistic. I know I’ve had disappointments and failures; the fact that I was on the spectrum was irrelevant.
This has won multiple awards and definitely deserved them. If you’re looking for something other than Rain Man or Mary and Max, I’d recommend it.