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My Flesh and Blood (2002)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 30
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 3

Disturbing and heart-wrenching documentary about a 53-years-old woman raising 11 children.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 1

Disturbing and heart-wrenching documentary about a 53-years-old woman raising 11 children.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 1,375

My Rating

Movie Info

Susan Tom of Fairfield, CA, is not a typical single mother -- Tom is the head of a family of 11 adopted children, all of whom are physically challenged or living with long-term illnesses. Tom and her special family are the subject of My Flesh and Blood, a documentary which examines the dynamic of this household, as well as the often demanding physical and emotional needs of the 11 kids and the heavy emotional burden Tom must sometimes carry as she looks after children who may not survive to


Documentary, Special Interest

Nov 30, 2004

Strand Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (31) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (3) | DVD (5)

Poignant, heartbreaking proof that, sometimes, love is just not enough.

February 20, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For an agonizing and ultimately transcendent cinematic portrait of sacrifice, love and saving grace, audiences need look no further than this unpretentious and deeply moving film.

February 20, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In turns heart-wrenching and eye-opening, this documentary is one of the year's best.

December 2, 2003
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The effect on her children of Susan Tom's call to serve and cherish is enthralling to behold, and My Flesh and Blood deeply honors her and her family.

December 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The experiences of this family from Fairfield will resonate with moviegoers around the country.

November 28, 2003 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There may have been 'no grand plan' to Susan Tom's life, as she says, but grand is a good word for what's happened.

November 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Next time your boss is being a jerk, take a look at My Flesh and Blood.

November 21, 2004 Full Review Source:

Serves as a moving reminder that there are people out there who walk the walk and serve as examples of the humanity we all should be exhibiting in our own lives.

January 31, 2004 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

This movie, tough to watch, is invaluable to absorb.

January 30, 2004 Full Review Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Union-Tribune

Full of life, the characters openly share moments of startling intimacy, hardship, and triumph.

December 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Premiere Magazine
Premiere Magazine

Fails to resonate with anything more than the quotidian rhythms of a uniquely dysfunctional family.

December 6, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

One of the most profoundly moving and inspiring documentaries in recent memory.

December 5, 2003

Think raising your kids is tough? Try this moving documentary on for size.

December 5, 2003 Full Review Source: E! Online
E! Online

The documentary debut of Emmy Award-winning Bay Area TV journalist Jonathan Karsh pays a price for its hands-off approach.

December 1, 2003 Full Review Source:

takes us to a place that many of us will find difficult and joyful at the same time

November 30, 2003 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

Powerful and startlingly unsentimental.

November 28, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Whatever you make of this family, one thing is certain after watching My Flesh and Blood -- you won't forget them.

November 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

Audience Reviews for My Flesh and Blood

This documentary features a family composed of one adopting mother and eleven disabled children.
It's almost impossible to write a review about this film. I can say for certain only that it was well-made, able to intimately capture its subjects' lives. Beyond that, there isn't much I can write without caveat.
When the film first introduces us to Susan Tom -- during the first fifteen minutes -- we have already seen one of her children threaten to kill one or more of the rest. Additionally, we've met Faith, who has been burned to the point that she has no capability to grow hair, her skin looking like it's pasted-on putty, and Anthony, who has open sores across his face and body. Xenia, who has no legs, looks like she has it easy in comparison. My first thought about Susan Tom was one of condemnation. It seemed to me that she was mixing dangerous brew because the work that must go in to caring for all of these children with all of their ailments must mean that some needs get ignored. I thought that Susan Tom's behavior was motivated by a deep need to feel loved and admired, and such behavior ultimately worked to the detriment of the people she tries to help. As I continued watching the film, I saw this play out in Susan's relationship with Margaret, her biological daughter and the person, who, for me, becomes the most sympathetic "character' in the film. Margaret has some heart-wrenching moments when she begs her occupied mother for attention and approval but is ultimately told to "wait until tomorrow morning."
But this is a person's real life that I'm writing about, so I feel uncomfortable attempting to be objective or judgmental about it, and I don't think I would be able to say what I just wrote to Tom's face. Why? Because she's caring for people whom society treats with little but pity. Though she falters at times, most of the time she accomplishes a daunting task.
Overall, though my first reaction is to find Susan Tom's actions reprehensible even as the film attempts to convince me to celebrate her, I can't say that my first reaction held true throughout the remainder of the film.
September 11, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Humane, absorbing and life-affirming documentary about a unconventional family made up of one mum and eleven varyingly-disabled adopted children. It shouldn't work but it does, thanks to the matter- of-fact handling of the subject by the director and the children. No mawkishness or halo-polishing here, and a good one to watch the next time you think you've got it tough. ..
April 30, 2010
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

Hard to watch at times, but well worth the ride. This angel of a lady deserves some kind of award, if she hasn't already.
July 13, 2008

Super Reviewer

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