Based on the stage play, Children of a Lesser God is a metaphor movie about a hearing man's romance with a deaf woman. On the surface, it functions as a sympathy grabber for the hearing disabled, and a movie we can smile at because of William Hurt's gallant attempt to help deaf children speak, live normal lives, and, even, sing (albeit to cheesy songs but in one of the most fun and touching scenes captured on film). That is the skin deep surface, which would have been enough to make it a crowd pleaser and would have kept it from being torn to pieces by the critics.
Add to the movie a second level, a difficult character Sarah (Marlee Matlin, who one the Best Actress award), the deaf ex-nymphomaniac in love with the hearing man (William Hurt), who gives a terrific performance and is deaf to boot. That would make the critics happy. But that's not why I'm happy. No. I'm happy because, below the surface level of a movie for the deaf lies a movie for the intelligent.
In a form drawn out of proportion so that it is unrecognizable until you think, Children of a Lesser God is not about deaf people but about the difficulties we all face in relationships.
The urge to become joined in a middle ground without the desire to compromise, only to have your partner do so. It is a movie that drills to the core of them and somehow finds us. And that's what the critics like me want, a movie that's a mirror. A mirror that is clearer than everyday life. And, in Children of a Lesser God, that's what I got.
Run time: 119 mins
In Theaters: Friday 31st October 1986
Box Office Worldwide: $31.9M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 6
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Randa Haines
Producer: Patrick J. Palmer, Burt Sugarman
Screenwriter: Hesper Anderson
Starring: Marlee Matlin as Sarah Norman, William Hurt as James Leeds, Philip Bosco as Dr. Curtis Franklin, John Limnidis as William, Piper Laurie as Mrs. Norman, Allison Gompf as Lydia, John F. Cleary as Johnny, Philip Holmes as Glen, Bob Hiltermann as Orin