Mission to Lars Movie Review
Tom Spicer has Fragile X syndrome, a form of autism that reveals itself in social anxiety and the need for order and predictability. He repeatedly tells his big sister Kate, a journalist, and his little brother Will, a filmmaker, that he wants to meet Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. So they decide to make it happen. This is a huge challenge for the Kate and Will, who have never properly bonded with their brother. But the three fly from Britain to Los Angeles, then drive a motorhome to Las Vegas and Sacramento, following Metallica's concert tour. They also visit Yosemite and Fragile X expert Hagerman along the way.
"We thought it would be fun, bonding," says Kate. "We wanted to do something good for our brother. We were also sick of him endlessly asking to meet Lars." But despite exhaustive preparations, Kate and Will weren't quite prepared for the challenges along the road. Their initial jetlag-fuelled bickering sends Tom into his shell early on, requiring even more effort. And it isn't until the third concert (back in Los Angeles) that he's able to face the music, as it were.
This is a thoroughly involving film that simply follows these three siblings as they deepen their relationship on a lively, unpredictable adventure. The camerawork is intimate, often right in their faces as we see Kate and Will trying to improve the way they interact with Tom, so the growth between the film's early and later scenes is striking. This up-close approach also allows all three to emerge as engaging, fully formed movie characters.
Aside from the importance of making a film like this, it's also a lot of fun to watch. Sharp humour sparks in every scene, and we really root for these three likeable people on their mission. There's never much of a doubt where this is going, but the scenes of Tom's fateful meeting with Ulrich are moving in ways that surprise us. Indeed, this film's engaging, honest approach can change the way we think about mental disability.