House of Cards

House of Cards is one of those films that I’’ve seen bits and pieces of over the years. I finally had the chance to see the whole thing. By the way, lest anyone be confused, this is the Kathleen Turner/Tommy Lee Jones movie, not the wonderful miniseries with Ian Richardson.

Turner’’s archaeologist husband falls to his death in Mexico. A shaman tells
Turner’’s youngest child, Sally that her father has gone to the moon. So Ruth (Katheen Turner) and her two children move back to the States whereupon Sally begins to display autistic symptoms. Ruth refuses to admit there’’s a problem, but as the situation worsens, a psychiatrist played by Tommy Lee Jones is called in. Still adamant that there is nothing wrong that mother love cannot fix, Ruth tries to reach her daughter another way. And succeeds.

The good folks who’’ve written reviews at IMDB are divided on the subject. I have to say both Ruth and the message of the film ticked me off. There seems to be debate about whether or not Sally had autism; some argue that it’s a vision quest.

I don’’t think that’s the point. There are two big problems with this film. The first is that the brilliance displayed by the children with pervasive developmental disorders is glorified by Ruth. Although the psychiatrist character makes an excellent case for normalcy, Ruth never does accept it, which is not only annoying, but a flaw in the script. The second is the ending, which strongly suggests that hey, it is possible to reach these kids through mystical means. That may be an understandable emotional response, but it’’s also dangerously deceptive.


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