Film Review – My Feral Heart

“We’re not so different”

 

At a time where screening for Down’s Syndrome in pregnant women is threatening to become easier in the UK, this film is extremely important and relevant. Through breaking down negative assumptions about what life with Down’s Syndrome is like, this film provides a timely positive portrayal of the ‘condition.’ Many people assume that people with Down’s Syndrome cannot be ‘independent,’ that they would be unable to cope without their parents, and that essentially they are different from people without the ‘condition.’ However, this film shows that “we’re not so different.”

The film begins by turning a significant stereotype on its head. The main character, Luke, who has Down’s Syndrome is not only ‘independent,’ but is also caring for his elderly disabled mother with no outside assistance. The audience is shown Luke doing a variety of tasks, living a seemingly happy life with his mum. However, when she passes away social services neglect to see Luke’s abilities and believe that they cannot leave him alone. Because of this, they force Luke to leave his own home and go to a residential home. This highlights the real strength of the existing dis/ableist assumptions in society. Assumptions which are consistently challenged throughout the film.

Once in the residential home, two main elements to the plot unfold. First, the development of Luke’s friendship with a man who is doing community service in the field next to the residential home. Second, an injured ‘feral’ girl is found by Luke in the field one day and he nurses her back to health in an abandoned barn. This second element is perhaps the most unclear part of the story line. But it’s potential to make the audience think is significant. Each member of the audience may take a different message home from the film.

This film is about love, loss, and relationships. It is a film that can make you laugh, smile and cry. A film that I would definitely recommend, as it brings home an important message. People with Down’s Syndrome, are “not so different.” Their lives can be just as rich, and bring just as much joy to other people’s lives, as the lives of people without Down’s Syndrome.