If Rupert Isaacson can not only pen a bestseller about his quest to curb his son’s autism (the dubious vanity project The Horse Boy), but also turn his experiences into a film, then, sure, Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir, an Icelandic mother of an autistic child, can get a movie of her own, too. Directed by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, A Mother’s Courage follows Ericsdottir as she travels to the United States to interview autism experts, speak with members of autistic families, and explore different forms of treatment, later bringing her own son over for a round of experimental therapy. A decent primer on the common and often misunderstood disease—in bold digital colors and scored to Sigur Rós and Björk, no less!—the film suffers from the attitude embodied by its self-congratulatory title, its true subject being the pleasure that Ericsdottir and other parents interviewed in this film take in talking about their kids (and, by extension, themselves) as if they’re the most important creatures in the world. This attitude reaches its unctuous nadir when film producer Jonathan Shestack indignantly scoffs that he “can’t believe” that a wealthy nation like ours hasn’t done more to help autistic children. Because, of course, this country has always done such a good job of caring for its underprivileged.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 22, 2010