Mockingbird Don't Sing Movie Review

This true story comes to us from way back in 1970, when police raided the wildly dysfunctional home of a family who kept their daughter locked in a closet for 14 unspeakably abusive years, still in diapers and unable to speak.

Busted out, her therapists and doctors had a hell of a time reintegrating her into society -- and in fact, she never did learn to speak, confirming a long-held theory that if a child doesn't learn language skills before puberty it never will.

Mockingbird Don't Sing is a rather straightforward retelling of the story of Katie (Tarra Steele) and her social worker caregiver Sandra (Melissa Errico), a movie-of-the-week rendition of Nell and The Miracle Worker. Though the work through language and society-reintegration skills, Sandra and Katie end up terrorized by an obsessive doctor (Sean Young, of course) and the whole affair ends in tragedy.

Few liberties appear to have been taken with the story except for updating it to the present (a period piece being clearly out of the budget). Unfortunately that tends to put a damper on the drama, as Katie's struggle vs. society is undermined in favor of the crazy doctor story. Where's the media attention and the constant attempts to take advantage of the poor girl? Even the lackluster Nell got that right.

Steele steals the show here, but in a role with almost no intelligible lines it's hard for her to make much of a mark. In the end, we feel for her plight (though she's about 46 years old now) though we're a bit pissed that a modern-day update isn't given to us. Does Katie really still live in a foster home as the end-of-film text crawl says? One is doubtful (though Davenport writes to us to assure is it is true).

The Hallmark production values don't help, though it's a testament this film was made at all. I can imagine the financiers weren't exactly lining up to get a crack at this one.


Comments

Mockingbird Don't Sing Rating

" Weak "

Rating: NR, 2001

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