His Dark Materials
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
Got more questions about news letters?
Already have an account? Log in here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
We encourage our community to report abusive content and/ or spam. Our team will review flagged items and determine whether or not they meet our community guidelines.
Please choose best explanation for why you are flagging this review.
Thank you for your submission. This post has been submitted for our review.
Sincerely, The Rotten Tomatoes Team
A classic, they don't make movies like this anymore!!!
I have a tendency to enjoy romantic dramas more than most and therefore I was highly susceptible to the charms of this film as cliché as they sometimes were. What breathes new life into this story of a couple facing a disability is the impressive acting from William Hurt and Marlee Matlin and the film's sensitive treatment of it's subject matter. Many films do not manage to convince of a romantic connection between two people but this is that rare film that does and despite how cheesy the film is it goes a lot deeper than most romantic films in explaining the breakdown of a relationship.
A teacher for deaf children with unorthodox methods, James Leeds, William Hurt, moves to a small town to teach at a new school where he encounters a beautiful but troubled young deaf janitor, Sarah Norman, Marlee Matlin. He pursues a romantic relationship with her while also urging her to speak and read lips which she is made uncomfortable by. The two do eventually commit to one another and she moves out of the house of her overbearing mother, Mrs. Norman, Piper Laurie, in addition to quitting her job to be with him. This puts even more strain on their relationship as she resents the way she is condescended to and this causes their relationship to collapse. They experience extreme loneliness and longing for one another when separated and are eventually able to reconcile.
One of the biggest difficulties that the film faces in working is communicating to the audience, usually not fluent in sign language, what the main female character is saying. They get around this by having Hurt incredulously say everything that Matlin is communicating, this sounds ridiculous and in theory is frustrating to the audience but Hurt is such a great actor that he makes it work. We feel all of the emotions in the conversations as Matlin is able to convey so much without even speaking as her face contorts itself into expressions of rage and regret. We very quickly forget about the device being used to dispense information to us about what Matlin is saying, it really doesn't matter because we care more about the emotional conflict than the verbal sparring.
The film also succeeds in building up a very sweet, enjoyable to watch courtship between our two main characters that climaxes in a rather beautiful love scene. We see the two of them flirt as she is perennially annoyed and upset, we later find out why, while he is desperate to get to know her better and the push and pull between them is electric because of the chemistry between Hurt and Matlin. Their first date is excellent as it introduces all of the conflicts that will later bring their relationship to an end as he is simultaneously able to make her more secure and bring her out of her shell while also overwhelming her and making her feel shameful over her condition. The pool love scene has an unexpected eroticism to it as we see Matlin's naked figure floating in the water and yet she is not filmed with an aggressive male gaze, the director is female, but with a touch that feels as though it appreciates the beauty of her body but also the strength she possesses. The coming together of the two is seen in a soft light as we see the expressions of the actors faces more than their bodies or actions and we feel a certain joy for these characters.
Director Randa Haines deserves a lot of credit for her work here as she brings the correct sensibility to material like this indulging the sweeter moments while seeing the hard realism necessary to confront the issues that the film could have just touched upon. She introduces us to our characters very quickly but we know immediately who they are and after this point we get to settle in to spending time in their company and witness them change each other. She brings elements of the classical romantic melodrama to the picture and some of the visuals certainly recall Douglas Sirk but she makes us feel that we are watching something wholly original because we are so swept up in the story.
The best inspiring romance movie ever made!
Children of a Lesser God is the story of a hearing man who falls in love with a deaf woman. It’s probably best that I don’t go into too much personal detail about my passion for the Deaf community, but it is hard for me to talk about this movie without at least mentioning it. I’ve wanted to learn ASL basically my entire life (at least since elementary school) but I haven’t taken the time to get good at it, and working with the Deaf or any special needs group is kind of a dream job of mine. So I had an instant connection to this film, because the subject matter is something I already care about deeply. I appreciated that they cast a large number of real deaf people, including the astounding Marlee Matlin, because it stopped this movie from any mockery or condescension. Instead the film celebrated those who can’t hear, while also confronting some of the challenges they face when interacting with a hearing world. I wish more of the film was spent focusing on the students in the school, because I thought there were some interesting dynamics in that classroom. However, the film leans hard into the romantic relationship, and doesn’t leave much time to deal with anything else. Some of the struggles that they faced all were rooted in the same couple of problems, so it made the arguments feel repetitive. I think this is true to life, because most real relationships have a tendency to deal with the same issues over and over again, but it can get tedious to watch in a film. But my biggest complaint in Children of a Lesser God was the fact that they decided to omit subtitles. It gets so tedious having William Hurt translate almost all the sign language in the film. It doesn’t seem natural for him to do this, particularly when alone with Marlee Matlin. The easy solution would be to subtitle what is being signed, but at the time studios were too afraid reading would turn off American viewers. The best aspect of Children of a Lesser God is that it doesn’t succumb to an unrealistic or clichéd Hollywood ending. There isn’t a simple solution that fixes everything, Marlee Matlin doesn’t have to alter her convictions to accommodate William Hurt, and there’s no miraculous healing that makes it seem like deafness (or not speaking) is the flaw that was ruining everything. There is more going on in this film than I initially thought, which makes it one I want to see again. The characters have problems that they cannot clearly articulate, and the problems don’t have simple solutions. It’s a drama that happens to involve deafness as a central theme, but it uses that theme as a way of exploring the kind of human issues that we all deal with, particularly in romantic relationships. While I think the film is flawed, and the fixes for those flaws would have been relatively simple, I still enjoyed watching Children of a Lesser God a lot, and it makes me want to get back to learning ASL. Ranking on my Flickchart Wins against Elmer Gantry Wins against Moonraker Loses to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Loses to Pitch Perfect Wins against Three Days of the Condor Loses to Ratatouille Loses to Artists and Models Loses to Outbreak Loses to Vantage Point Loses to The Secret in Their Eyes Wins against Ordet Children of a Lesser God ranked 344 out of 1586
James is a new speech teacher at a school for the deaf. He falls for Sarah, an ex-student who decided to stay on at the school as a cleaner rather than venture into the world.
Children of a Lesser God is an incredible film. It is about James who is a new speech teacher at a school for the deaf. William Hurt and Marlee Matlin give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written. Randa Haines did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama and romance. Children of a Lesser God is a must see.
A solid film about forming connections with ourselves and others. Hurt and Matlin are electric.
"Love is Never Silent" is better!!!
Although it often stumbles into clichés, Children of a Lesser God is a powerful and sweet love story about a teacher and a deaf younger woman that rises on the magnificent chemistry of its leading stars - an energetic and charming William Hurt and an ultra-memorable Marlee Matlin - leaving the audience literally speechless.
Marlee Matlin certainly earned her Oscar for this movie! Both her and William Hurt were incredible! I enjoyed this film tremendously, but it did hit the occasional dead end, and the ending was a bit lukewarm.