Ordinary People - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ordinary People Reviews

Page 1 of 68
April 12, 2017
How do you grieve someone's death when there is so much guilt surrounding it? That is the basis for this most truly powerful and emotional film. What begins as a boat trip for two brothers ends in the sudden death of the older brother and the dissolution of the family. With feelings of guilt over surviving the accident, suicidal Conrad falls into a deep despair. Despite his hesitation about trying therapy, he meets and befriends a therapist who slowly helps him to open up and deal with not only his brother's death but the issues that came about with his parent's due to the accident. Hailed as a box office winner in 1980, it went on to be nominated for 6 academy awards...winning 4 of the awards, including best director for Robert Redford, best actor in a supporting role for Timothy Hutton and best picture. Although due to it's very heavy subject matter and content, be very cautious in how you approach this film...it is worth the watch though!
April 6, 2017
Just plain boring. It deals with heavy topics, but somehow lacks depth. (First and only viewing - In my mid-twenties)
April 4, 2017
One of the best movies I've ever seen, Redford's directing, and the performances of Sutherland, Moore, Hutton, Hirsch, and McGovern are all impeccable.
March 5, 2017
Excellent and intelligent drama about a WASPy family trying to deal with the loss of a family member.
½ February 28, 2017
Not bad, but "Ordinary People" marked the beginning of the chain of forgetable movies to win best picture in the 80's.
February 1, 2017
If I were to give an Oscar for the best ever--best of all time!--performance by a woman in a motion picture, I would choose Mary Tyler Moore for her performance as Beth in "Ordinary People." Robert Redford casts her against type--brilliantly. Unlike Mary Richard of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Beth cannot be happy, cannot really smile or laugh. Nor can she love. When her husband Calvin, played convincingly by Donald Sutherland, asks her whether she loves him, Beth replies, "I feel about you as I always have." The critical consensus states that the film is "shot through with bitterness and sorrow." That's a distortion. There is bitterness and sorrow, but there is far more love and understanding--in part through the characters played by Judd Hirsch and Elizabeth McGovern. This is a GREAT movie, in my all-time Top Ten.
½ January 24, 2017
Robert Redford's directorial debut benefits from great performances from its cast, which elevates a tender family drama.
December 24, 2016
Hutton is very enjoyable. I liked the film less when it focused on the parents but when it followed Hutton's journey to acceptance the film was very strong.
October 2, 2016
Deeply moving, outstanding acting from every single actor. Unmatched as far as acting- in my mind., but especially Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton
September 4, 2016
Amazing performances all round but Donald Sutherland broke my heart.
½ September 1, 2016
Very forceful drama, extremely well acted with topping Timothy Hutton performance which just can't leave you impartial.
½ August 21, 2016
Amazing performances, especially from Timothy Hutton. It's a good movie but felt too long, I was struggling to make it through at times. The Hutton/Hirsch scenes are outstanding, though. Not sure how or why it beat Raging Bull for Best Picture, so crazy.
August 12, 2016
In a film that has all the makings of the standard coming-of-age drama, Ordinary People tackles sensitive subject matter with poise and a rewarding sentiment.
Mainly following the life of Conrad Jarrett (a powerTimothy Hutton), we watch a a regular, suburban family adjust to normal life after the death of one of their children. We are introduced to a seemingly normal, functioning family with Conrad at its focal point, from the audience's view at least. He engages in normal teenage activities: he rides to school in the backseat of his rowdy friends car, attends swim practice, and goes home to eat dinner with his pristine mother (Mary Tyler Moore) and his soft-spoken father (Donald Sutherland). All seems right on the surface but the film's uneasy tone never wavers as the frailties of the family slowly begins to unfold.
The film moves at a somewhat leisurely pace but it is never tiresome. In fact is effortless and allows each character to reveal their intricacies without bombarding the viewer.
The film deals with tragedy and suicide with care, and does not dwell on melodramatic expose. Each character's insecurity is hinted at but it is never too explicit where the audience need not discover it for themselves. Redford allows the viewer to empathize with each character by their own notion and presents the events in a way that shows without telling.
Much of these emotions and complexities are drawn out by a family psychologist Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch) who operates with a calmness and assurance that couples well with Hutton's performance. Hirsch does a marvelous job here as the seasoned doctor who meets with Conrad and evokes his true emotions about his brother's death not by textbook questions but by establishment of trust and transparency. Hirsch and Hutton work well here and the dialogue is natural and effortless, reminds me of a young Matt Damon and Robin Williams conversing in a similar setting in Good Will Hunting.
Another couple that work well together with matching acting prowess is Tyler Moore and Sutherland. Playing the dichotomous couple who battle between acceptance and catharsis in the face of the tragedy, both actors nail their roles as the conscientious mother who struggles to create an intimacy with her son, and the quiet, agreeable father who attempts to find a common ground between the two polarized members of his family, respectively. Tyler Moore is unforgiving and tragic in her own sense as later scenes in the movie reveal but the film never leans in her favor. Alvin Sargent and Nancy Dowd, who wrote the screenplay, never neglect to give each character their own light and allows each character to operate effectively in separate scenes.
However, the best scenes in the movie I think involve the supporting characters. the most revealing instances are between Conrad and his two female interests. It's here we are able to connect with Conrad and get a real feel for his pain. One scene has Conrad meeting with his friend from the psychiatric hospital Karen (Dinah Manoff) and they share the details of their life after their encounter. We can see Conrad's struggle discern his own condition in comparison to Karen's. We can see for ourselves the insincerity of his upbeat attitude and his attempt at normality. Director Robert Redford helps bring vibrancy to the film and we see a part of the story develop rather than unfold. It's at these moments we understand the struggle Conrad face's with his own emotional turmoil and we can see his only two connections with happiness left; although one character embodies happiness in the past, the other in the future.
At the beginning and end, a version of Pachelbel's Canon rings out; a beautiful, grand composition that works as a synecdoche. To dip into musical terms, Pachelbel utilizes counterpoint, or a feature of music where every section plays their own tune at different times, yet the entirety of the piece sounds in harmony. It's a nice testament to the film, where each roles resonates solo and fortissimo, anchored by the unwavering performances of the cast. Yet the true genius of the film does not just lie in the players, but by the sure-handed direction of Robert Redford in his extraordinary debut.
½ July 18, 2016
Though it's expertly directed & acted, this is definitely a one-time watch for me.
June 9, 2016
Ordinary People is great because it could be released today or 50 years from now without losing its power or relevance. Even though its shown from the perspective of white middle and upper middle class characters, the realistic portrayal of how the withholding, denial, and repression of emotions and thoughts can effect families has universal relevance. It also offers keen insight into how our society processes death in all forms and why simply opening up ourselves to the ones we love can be so hard. Those familiar with Mary Tyler Moore only as a perky sitcom actress will have difficulty recognizing the ice cold loveless mother she portrays here. A young Timothy Hutton is wonderful as a teenage boy coping with the tragic death of his older brother, and Donald Sutherland is excellent playing a father who uses blinders to shut out the slow disintegration of his family.
May 15, 2016
Exploring the dark side of suburbia is nothing new at this point. Some would even argue that it's a rather passť subject to discuss after so much of the world has changed. Well then what makes Ordinary People stand out? There are plenty of things sure, but the most prominent would be its earnestness. A film like this could be easily be written off as Oscar bait from afar. But when you really break it down and watch these wonderful actors giving excellent performances, Robert Redford providing some very subtle direction, and this story of tragedy and recovery moving along so naturally, you may just reconsider that notion. In short, Ordinary People is a grim and heartbreaking examination of some very unordinary people trying their very damn best to be ordinary. Every performance is fantastic, every shot is masterfully crafted, and the themes explored are tastefully done while still unrelenting. Perfect.
½ May 11, 2016
A sad movie about dealing with loss. Feels dated, but a direction from Robert Redford and the performances help elevate it.
March 30, 2016
an exceptional movie. still waters run deep.
½ March 24, 2016
Ordinary people was the 1980 winner for best picture. Having seen the film I can say that it is warranted as this is an extremely powerful drama. A teenager (Timothy Hutton) feels guilt and blames himself for his brothers death which occurred during a boating accident. The father of the family (Sutherland) does his best to keep his son's health in his best interest and to keep the family together. As Sutton seeks therapy with a psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch) he discovers himself and struggles to get better. As the film progresses the characters really unfold and you see them for who they truly are. Redford masterfully directs this in a such a manner that shows you how different people react to tragedy. Some people might not like this film due to inability to relate to the characters, or have not had such a tragedy in their own lives, but anyone that has will really relate to this film. Mary Tyler Moore does an excellent job as the mother as well. Tragedy can have such diverse effects on somebody, but its a part of life and this film captures how it can make us stronger or really expose your true character.
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