My Left Foot is a strong film not for its portrayal of Christy Brown, the real-life Irish artist and writer with cerebral palsy, but for its portrayal of the typical life that he led. By showing his family’s life beyond just centering constantly on Christy, the film was able to communicate the fullness of the man’s experience. If it had only focused on the trials of a disabled life, the film would have reduced itself to a cheap, sentimental Hallmark movie. But Christy’s siblings argue with his parents and each other in vignettes completely unrelated to Christy’s struggle to be understood. His sister fights with his father over an unwanted pregnancy completely separate from Christy’s personal struggles with a lackluster love life. His father’s drunken bluster and his mother’s sacrificial loving understanding of everyone in the family are expounded on subtly. These are all plot points that interact with Christy, but they don’t define him strongly.
As a result, the film portrays the man in a manner that feels authentic and holistic. Personally, I felt that the film had an unrealistically happy ending, particularly given the amount of time that it spent emphasizing the realistically challenging life that Christy had ahead of him. The framing device for the film kept it interesting, though, and the fact that the actual memoir that the movie is based on shows up early in the film is a fun meta twist. I don’t even need to explain that Daniel Day-Lewis was amazing at his role, since he has gotten Best Actor awards for this and basically every performance he ever gives. The entire family was acted well, though. I’m not sure where they found that many homely Irish-looking guys.
It wasn’t my kind of film, to be honest. I found the film difficult to watch due to its depressing nature, which is a testament to its strong acting and storytelling. The actors kept me in the story so well that I didn’t even go for the cheering ending.