Claire Danes deserved every ounce of that Emmy she won last year for this HBO film. Her portrayal is nothing short of magnificent.
She had everything down—Temple’s walk, Temple’s smile, Temple’s anger, Temple’s pronunciation, and Temple’s mind, which is perhaps the most mysterious aspect of all of them. Temple Grandin is an autistic woman, but she’s also a professor, an expert in animal husbandry, and a hero in the autistic community. In short, she is fascinating, and so is this movie.
I think my only problem with the whole thing was the timeline—I could see that they were trying to jump around and use flashbacks and all that, but it didn’t work too well. Flashbacks actually work better when they’re a little more rapid, so you can be reminded each time of what time frame you’re in. It also didn’t help that they didn’t really age Temple that well; Claire Danes is extraordinarily beautiful, so it might be kind of hard to age her. Oh, well, I’ll give ’em that one. It’s trivial anyway.
Watching this movie turns you into a total geek, or at least that’s how I feel, anyway. I’m fascinated by autism, I’m fascinated by the parents and teachers that raised Temple to be such an incredible, contributing member of society (and I don’t mean that condescendingly), I’m fascinated by Temple’s connection with animals, and I’m fascinated by her incredible design for dip machines and slaughterhouses. It’s a field that few people know about, but one that she can bring a lot of interest to.
I don’t know that I’ve ever interacted with someone who’s autistic, but I do admit that I would be intimidated. This movie gives so much insight into the minds of autistic people because Temple Grandin herself was apart of it. She made sure that people knew about her hug machine, her fear of automatic doors, her dislike of human touch, her rules, everything like that. And it’s important that we all know about that too; just as she helped the cattle to be more civilized, she educated the rest of us to act differently and cordially and respectfully to one another, and that’s just as much a contribution as her invention. Claire Danes made it possible for more people to hear her story, which is like icing on the cake.
If you ever get a chance to see this film, you’ll be captivated by Danes and by the peaceful cattle that roam all across the screen. But then, when you look up the real Grandin, you won’t be able to look away. She is fantastic.