Ordinary People - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ordinary People Reviews

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½ December 7, 2017
Very cheesy movie, with cheesy acting and cheesy dialogue. I canīt imagine anyone playing this movie outside of a middle school class.
½ October 8, 2017
A movie about a family dealing with the tragic death of their son/brother. Like in real life, everyone deals with tragedy in different ways. Some stay strong for the sake of others, some become distant and others simply cannot handle it at all. Ordinary People handles this theme with grace and confidence.The father stays strong, the mother keeps trudging along, but makes it obvious that she lost her "favorite" son in this accident without ever speaking the words and the brother is inconsolable.
Usually in these kinds of films, the person lost is very young and is used as a manipulative plot device to try and get those tears flowing. Here, the person dead was in high school, who died in a boating accident and aside from a couple flash-backs, the fact that he died is rarely discussed by anyone.
A must see for anyone who appreciated well written dramas.
October 8, 2017
Its a small movie in scope, but a BIG grand movie in it's emotions and scenes. It's a masterpiece drama with rich characters, a strong Oscar winning screenplay, and A+ performances.
½ August 30, 2017
9 out of 10:

Despite feeling like a soap opera and a predictable ending, Ordinary People is still wonderfully acted, well shot, and moving.
½ August 27, 2017
So emotionally honest.
May 11, 2017
A deeply - moving family drama that doesn't add too much sadness.
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.
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