Temple Grandin Review – Different, Not Less

(For SI blog reader Gandhiji & his/her/their many avatars)

We live in an age when the trivial, insignificant, repetitive and talentless often triumphs over talent, the original and the substantive.

And never more so than in the movie business.

Movie after movie (be it Indian or Hollywood) has either love or action as their raison d’etre (and invariably with two bit actors who can’t emote to save their lives and third-rate writers who vomit all over the screenplay).

As if there’s nothing more to life than love or jumping from one tall building to another!

Rare are the movies like Winter’s Bone, Biutiful and King’s Speech that dare to tackle non-love, non-action subjects and in a stellar manner.

To that elusive category, comes the made for TV HBO film Temple Grandin (2010) directed by Mick Jackson.

If you ask us what the movie is all about, we’d respond that it’s about the triumph over adversity.

Nature’s Freaks
Nature makes most babies along similar lines, but once in a while nature takes a break and then the conveyor belt breaks down resulting in babies with oddities like cleft palate, autism et al.

You know those babies, the world in its infinite cruelty labels freaks.

By now, you schmucks know where we are heading, right?

Temple Grandin is a slightly fictionalized biopic about an eponymous autistic and her remarkable triumph in an age when many with her condition were often institutionalized never to step out of those bleak walls again.

As this movie shows us, institutionalization was the advice Temple Grandin’s mother received from her doctor when she takes her daughter to see him because her four-year-old daughter is still not talking and exhibiting unusual behavior.

But it to the credit of the mother that she did not heed such ill-considered advise and instead focused on raising Temple in as normal a manner as possible.

As the mother tells the science teacher, Temple is different, but not less.

Fine Triumph
The story of Temple Grandin is the story of Temple’s triumph over her condition.

We see very little of Temple’s younger days. The movie focuses on Temple’s high-school days and beyond.

Well made, well acted and well written, Temple Grandin eschews the melodramatic for the sober and restraint over the garish display of tantrums.

Living a life when you are autistic is not easy, particularly when your mind tends to think more visually, and the movie makes no bones about it.

When Temple designs a ‘squeeze machine’ to calm her down in moments of severe stress, her near universe is extremely unreceptive of the contraption seeing it as a sexual perversion.

One of the weaknesses of the movie is to only lightly touch upon the mother’s turmoil and the toll Temple’s autism takes on her, Temple’s sibling or the father. There’s nothing about Temple’s father except an offhand remark the mother makes to the doctor that he’s a busy man.

The exclusive focus on Temple makes it a little weird for what’s the individual, even if she be autistic, without the ambiance

Claire Danes, a 22-year-old non-autistic actress plays Temple Grandin with remarkable skill through all the rough patches in high school, college and on the animal feedlot.

The real life Temple Grandin, as the movie tells us in the end did well in life, earned a doctorate in animal science and over half the cattle are handled in a humane manner thanks to a novel system she designed for slaughter houses and feedlots. Temple is now a professor at the Colorado State University.

One of our favorite lines from the movie:

Nature is cruel. But we don’t have to be.

SearchIndia.com strongly recommends Temple Grandin. Netflix has the DVD.

5 Responses to "Temple Grandin Review – Different, Not Less"

  1. முனிAndy   February 10, 2011 at 10:50 am

    It was interesting to see how Temple(with her outlandish costume) awkwardly hugged Claire after the golden globe win announcement was made and how Claire reciprocated it. Temple rocks!

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Missed the Globes (Golden, we mean).

    My Name is Khan is garbage compared to this, good enough only for the chutiyas in India.

    • முனிAndy   February 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      I searched on youtube.. but I couldn’t find the Temple hug.

      If you are brave enough, you can download that clip from.

      I didn’t quite understand The exclusive focus on Temple makes it a little weird for what’s the individual, even if she be autistic, without the ambiance.. Can you please translate in plain English, please.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      One of our main grouses is that very little is shown of her immediate environment – the family context. We know she has a sibling but never see the sibling, never see the father, see very little of the mother (lesser maybe than the aunt).

      What impact/toll did Temple’s autism have on the rest of the family.

      Plus, how did she learn to speak? What role did her mother play?

      How does she learn to drive, surely a stressful experience?

      What about boyfriend//girlfriend (OK, we see the blind girl to some extent)?

      Is there no life for an autistic outside of the autistic context? Is the autistic’s entire universe circumscribed by autism?

  2. Naveen   February 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Unrelated.. If you folks at SI are interested in Crime / Mystery / Detective type then Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series played by David Suchet is available in Netflix. These are made for british TV movies. The period settings, acting of Suchet as Poirot is brilliant. Even the most mediocre Suchet potrayal of Poirot is light years ahead of the best of Indian Cinema. You cinephiles may have seen it but just thought of recommended. In case you are interested then start with “The mysterious affair at Styles”. If you like the Poirot character and the period settings then you will absolutely love it otherwise it may seem tedious.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Read (almost) all the Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple books but have yet to see any of the movie. Let’s see if Netflix has any on Instant Play.

    Alas, No! They’re all on DVD only. Added The Mysterious Affair at Styles to our Netflix queue.

    Tonight, we plan to watch The Watcher (from our local library).

    Can we go down again for another glass before the bubbly loses all its fizz? 🙂

  3. rama dasa   February 14, 2011 at 8:51 am

    to all my sikh friends:



    sounds like we need more awareness:most muslims/arabs DONT wear turbans

    p.s also want to wish the [wise souls] at SI a happy valentines day and to remind them not to get carried away in the shower if you know what i mean

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    What’s wrong with wearing a baseball cap having a Yankees or Mets logo. Takes less time than the loooooong turban and nobody’s likely to mistake you for Osama.

    Hell, the cab driver and Pizza delivery guy might even get bigger tips.

    Just loud thinking. 😉

  4. rama dasa   February 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Maybe your right,my Sikh American friends normally opt for the “sikh bandana” ie. a yellow bandana with the sikh logo on it…..if anyone is coming to NW ohio,there is a small punjabi restaurant (masala cuisine toledo) that i occasionally do odd jobs for (catering to the indian college kids for diwali ect.) that has its buffet at 7.99 per person,free tea/coffee with buffet and some of the cutest punjabi deviji’s around! we recently bought an american restuant”dudleys” and plan to feature south indian veg food from 5-9,of course this new addition to the “family” wont be in operation until later this year

You must be logged in to post a comment Login