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Blu-ray Review My Left Foot Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 2006
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough
My Left Foot Blu-ray Review

Oftentimes, films about afflicted individuals can stir one's emotions powerfully. Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker, for example, certainly ranks as one of the most masterful explorations of a handicapped individual coming to grips and then triumphing over an affliction. But just as The Miracle Worker allowed us to share vicariously in the defeats and triumphs of young Helen Keller as she emerged from the shadows of her impairment, so, too, does Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot, the story of Irish writer and painter Christy Brown, grant us many moments in which to indulge in the protagonist’s triumphs both large and small.

Studio: Lionsgate

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Rating: R

Run Time: 1 Hr. 43 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraViolet

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Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 01/13/2015

MSRP: $14.99

The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Irish painter and writer Christy Brown did not have what one might call an easy life. Born with cerebral palsy, Brown spent the first decade of his life simply trying to get across to his family that he wasn't an imbecile (the moment when he finally succeeds in doing this is one of the movie’s most triumphant sequences). Later on, in desperate maneuvers to take part in the everyday activities of his pals, he longed to date girls and play soccer. Inevitably, Brown found a kind of happiness with a hospital nurse, but in this film, deeply felt happiness is a long time coming for one of the Emerald Isle's most celebrated native sons. We watch Christy conquer his infirmities one by one from a distance somewhat removed from any possible sharing though we do get to revel in the obvious pleasure that his dozen brothers and sisters take in making him one of the family and a part of the neighborhood (wonderfully directed scenes with a street soccer match or at Halloween are treasurable). Thus, at the movie's conclusion, we have admiration for what we have seen, and we’ve become emotionally involved enough in the film experience to care richly about its story and its characters.

Having already seen Daniel Day-Lewis’ chameleon-like talent to transform himself utterly, everything from the street-wise Johnny in My Beautiful Launderette to the priggish Cecil Vyse in A Room with a View, his Christy Brown is nonetheless magnificent, an unforgettable film portrait of this tortured soul. Totally believable, down to the horrific spastic limbs and a speech impediment almost indecipherable, Day-Lewis burrows deep within the character and makes him truly come alive. Brenda Fricker makes the most of her moments as Christy's fiercely determined mother. Without resorting to a raised voice or obvious scenery chewing, Fricker is a marvelous presence, not only in her total support for her deformed son but also in assisting all of her children (and as a devout Catholic, she has many). Both actors earned Academy Awards for their performances, both richly deserved. They also won a host of various critics’ prizes for their work in the film. There are a couple of other interesting supporting performances. Hugh O'Conor plays the young Christy, and he’s a startling match for Daniel Day-Lewis (who takes over as Christy at age seventeen). Ray McAnally as the elder Brown plays him as a gruff but loving dad who comes to know his son after years of ignoring him. More important is Fiona Shaw as Christy's first real love interest. McCabe is a facial actress, and her countenance spells volumes of emotions as she sees Christy falling for her and knows she'll never be more than a loving friend to him. Ruth McCabe is the nurse Mary with whom Christy finally finds happiness, though the script by Shane Connaughton and director Jim Sheridan treats his falling for her rather too abruptly.

Because director Sheridan had a hand in fashioning the screenplay with Shane Connaughton, he gets to go backwards and forwards in time filling in the blanks of Christy’s early days as Brown waits to accept an award at a gala celebration of his work. But the script is sometimes not a smooth piece of writing, and it leaves some potentially dramatic situations unexplored. An illegitimate pregnancy, for instance, seems to be the catalyst for a lengthy subplot in the movie, but it's dropped like a hot potato quite soon after it's introduced. And one wishes that once Christy had bettered his speech, he could have found someone, a sibling or his mother, with whom he could express his longings and frustrations. He’s such a fascinating, mercurial character that one wishes he had been fleshed out even more in the script. Still, it’s a powerful film with two great performances at its core.

Video Rating: 3.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray release (the liner notes err by noting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio) and is offered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Though early scenes seem softer than they need to be, sharpness improves somewhat in the later reels, but contrast is a bit light and the brightness levels are up a tad too high if one can rely on a quarter-of-a-century memory in which the film seemed a bit darker. (Scenes in the bonus features look more as I remember the film looking.) Flesh tones often come off as a bit too pink. No age-related artifacts like dirt and scratches mar the presentation, however. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.

Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix seems mostly front centric, at least in terms of dialogue (well recorded and placed in the center channel) and sound effects. Elmer Bernstein’s wonderful music does get a nice surround placement in the fronts and rears, and no age-related hiss or pops are present at all.

Special Features Rating: 3/5

The Real Christy Brown (4:30, SD): producer Neal Pearson presents some home movies of the real Christy Brown working, and the man is briefly discussed by screenwriter Shane Connaughton and actor Hugh O’Conor.

An Inspirational Story: The Making of My Left Foot (10:21, SD): producer Neal Pearson, Irish scholar Scott Raston, writer Shane Connaughton, actor Hugh O’Conor, and critic Charles Champlin share opinions on the film’s production and reception including the pride they felt in their five unexpected Academy Award nominations.

Photo Gallery (13:49, HD): an annotated slideshow featuring stills and behind-the-scenes shots taken during the making of the movie.

Critical Reviews (HD): step-through text reviews of the critiques of four critics of the day: David Denby, Pauline Kael, Elvis Mitchell, and Charles Champlin.

Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed

Overall Rating: 4/5

While the Blu-ray encode isn’t as rich and detailed as one might have wished for such a moving and interesting film biography, My Left Foot still is a recommended disc due to the fascinating performances and a view of a life made whole by perseverance, great talent, and much love from many devoted hands.

Reviewed By: Matt Hough

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