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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely moving family drama
This movie profoundly affected me when I first saw it 6 years ago,when I was 10, and watching it today its impact remains undiminished.
In the wrong hands, this could so easily have become yet another dreary family drama in the TV Movie of the Week tradition, but first-time director Robert Redford skillfully avoids all the cliches. His restrained direction ensures...
Published on 26 Jan 2004 by Burjiz

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ordinary people
quite hard going for an oscar winner. Good performance by Timothy Hutton. Not sure why he only won best supporting actor. He was the main charachter, and in the film far more than Mary Tyler Moore.
Published on 2 Aug 2011 by Mr Geoffrey L Blick


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely moving family drama, 26 Jan 2004
By 
Burjiz (Schaffhausen, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ordinary People [DVD] (DVD)
This movie profoundly affected me when I first saw it 6 years ago,when I was 10, and watching it today its impact remains undiminished.
In the wrong hands, this could so easily have become yet another dreary family drama in the TV Movie of the Week tradition, but first-time director Robert Redford skillfully avoids all the cliches. His restrained direction ensures that the movie never descends into melodrama, and the big moments are superbly realised without the use of soaring strings or other Hollywood devices. Consequently, there is not a single moment that does not entirely ring true, and the movie is all the more heartwrenching for Redford's honest approach.
He is helped by a uniformly excellent cast. From all accounts, Redford is (as you might expect) an actor's director, and here he draws superb performances from two actors in atypical roles. Donald Sutherland is deeply moving in the difficult role of the father unable to comprehend why his family is falling apart, and Mary Tyler Moore is equally good as his emotionally repressed wife. The latter's performance is all the braver when one recalls that Tyler Moore's role mirrored her own off-screen turmoil at that time. For like the character of Beth in the movie, she too had recently lost a son, and was struggling to come to terms with her loss.
Judd Hirsch and Elizabeth McGovern are also impressive as, respectively, the psychiatrist and choirfriend who try to help Conrad, the troubled younger son of Tyler Moore and Sutherland. Conrad is played by 20-year-old Timothy Hutton in a mesmerising performance that will leave few viewers unaffected. Perfectly capturing the suicidal anguish of his character, Hutton rightly won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in this pivotal role. (Though why he was not nominated for Best Actor is beyond me; his is, after all, the central performance in the movie). Given the degree of Hutton's talent, one can only look in dismay at the downward spiral of his career in recent years.
Ordinary People was one of the finest American movies of the 1980s, and its themes are as relevant today as they were two decades ago. I highly recommend this genuine classic.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly assured directorial debut, 30 Dec 2003
By 
This review is from: Ordinary People [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Robert Redford's debut as a director distinguishes itself by the economy of the directing,but also the sreenplay, with not a wasted frame or throwaway line of script between the two.
The achievement is rounded off with towering performances, not only from Timothy Hutton, Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland as the surviving family members; but equally from Elizabeth McGovern as Hutton's soul mate,salvation and link with the rest of humanity, and Judd Hirsch ("Taxi") as the pragmatic,straight-talking but compassionate psychiatrist.
The regular on-the-couch interludes with Hutton and Hirsch create an effective thread to counterpoint the heavy domestic situation with Hutton and his still-grieving mother.
Likewise, Hutton's blossoming relationship with McGovern is sensitively intertwined with the rest of the plot,avoiding the obvious "love interest" angle for something more substantive.
In the end, the film is about forgiveness and accepting relationships for what they are, and not what we are told they should be.
Ordinary People,maybe, but a truly extraordinary film in terms of its insight, emotional resonance (you would need to be made of wood not to be profoundly moved by the way these people tell the story) and peerless performances by all involved on-screen and off. For what it's worth, definitely one of my Top Five of all time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chicago's North Shore, 6 Jun 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ordinary People [DVD] (DVD)
This is a absolutely wonderful and convincing film about affluent middle America and how a family confronts a tragedy that is outside of its normal control. It is a story of change that is thrust upon people who are extremely secure in their environment, who are not used to things they cannot immediately master, dismiss, or anesthetize by a cushion of money and supportive relationships.

The story centers on a sensitive and gifted younger son, who is caught in an existential anxiety that he cannot control. Timothy Hutton delivers what I think is the finest performance of his career, his every gesture displaying the turmoil he is feeling inside. He cannot feel anything, he complains, and is heading for another breakdown. He deserved the Oscar for it. But Donald Sutherland is also great as his father, who is struggling to cope with issues he has never confronted. Finally, in perhaps her most subtle role, Mary Tyler Moore is the mother; afraid of genuine emotion yet exuding an arrogant complacency, she had long been content to live in a comfortable predictability, long accustomed her role and milieu. They are all reacting to unspeakable pain in their own ways, revealing their strengths and capacities.

The final character in the film is Chicago's North Shore, a community that must be experienced to be believed. Redford portrays it with a sensitivity that is astonishing and not in the slightest condescending in spite of his many comical touches. I grew up there and still feel it is more or less home, though I have long since left. The place is one of the most affluent yet least cultured places in the US. Its residents feel entitled to a natural continuation of their family patterns: get a good job, probably related to finance in Chicago, and live a comfortable life of local prestige and style. I do not mean to imply that their lives are superficial or empty, just largely unquestioned and unquestioning, preoccupied with the generation of wealth and perpetuation of their "class standing" (for want of a better term). However, if something disrupts this cocoon - personal tragedy, economic upheaval, or just not fitting in - they are forced to leave their comfort zone, often with devastating results but also with the potential to grow.

The plot of the film is about the son, Conrad, as he begins to see a wonderful psychiatrist, who is completely straight with him as well as caring. They develop a powerful relationship, a space where Conrad can be himself and experiment with a new way of being. While the father is open to it, the mother refuses to recognize Conrad's struggle. The results are surprising as the equilibrium of the family shifts fundamentally.

Redford's film raises all of these issues with perfect emotional pitch. I watched it with my daughter (14); our family had lived in the area for a couple of years - kind of a sabbatical from our home in Europe, to be near my parents. She saw places we knew, recognized the types of people, and also learned about psychiatry (my father was a psychiatrist). We were both moved to tears by the story and the outstanding acting and talked a lot about the film afterwards. It is true art about what I have long viewed as an artless place.

Warmly recommended. With the many subtleties in it, this film can be watched many times.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully realistic, 6 Oct 2005
By 
Christian McCallister "dolphinboy" (The waters of the Great Lakes) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ordinary People [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A family has lost their oldest son in a boating accident, and the remaining son (Timothy Hutton) blames himself and attempts suicide. The parents, Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore, are trying to hold themselves and their family together, but the main way they are doing it is by hiding and repressing their pain, instead of facing the almost-unfaceable. Things get really stirred up when Timothy Hutton goes to see a therapist, played by Judd Hirsch. Everyone begins to face the horror and all the grief comes pouring out.
Oscars: This movie should have swept the Oscars. The look of the film, the directing, the soundtrack, and all of the acting represent film-making at its absolute finest. Timothy Hutton was so good that it's mind-boggling that he did not go on to become one of our best actors. Donald Sutherland is obviously in pain but trying to do what he thinks fathers are supposed to do: be strong for everyone else, no matter what the cost to himself. Mary Tyler Moore is astonishing as a woman driven to not feel the terrible pain that always lurks one step behind her. Judd Hirsch is superb as the friendly but quietly relentless therapist who will not let these people stay protectively numb.
Caution: This film is extremely realistic in its portrayal of family interactions, repressed emotion, and grief. The impact is very powerful and intense. Few people will be able to watch this film without sharing some of that pain. My brother died in 2002, and I saw some of this film coming to life in my home and in my brother's home.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Examines relationships, 12 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Ordinary People [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Robert Redford directed this excellent film which examines the lives of a family thrown into termoil when one of the its members is tragically killed in an accident. This event affects the son who is very obviously tramatised and finds it difficult to return to a normal life. What makes the film both interesting and compeling is that it examines the inter-rationships between the family members and demonstrates in a gripping and realistic way that adversity can expose human weaknesses and frailties. It also explores the idea that relationships are only truely tested in difficult situations. I think anyone watching this film will relate to the superb performances of the actors and empathise with the emotions each of them goes through. Highly recommended and one of my all time best films.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply...., 5 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Ordinary People [DVD] (DVD)
Quite simply.... the BEST film about therapy. Puts nonsense like Prince of Tides The Prince Of Tides [DVD] [1991]into perspective.

Ordinary People is a triumph for the director and the cast, an intelligent movie that captures the essence of therapy (i.e. the authenticity of relationship within the artificial and contrived setting) and the depth and complexity of a family's response to unimaginable grief. Scene after scene serve as wonderful testimonies to the film maker's art: e.g. The garden, The family photo, The diner, and of course, the fascinating therapy sessions.

Best of all... the ending, so unlike Hollywood, where for once, all is not explained or made good. Ordinary People, loose endings, real life.

Kevin Chandler (author: Listening in: A Novel of Therapy and Real Life
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ordinary people, 2 Aug 2011
By 
Mr Geoffrey L Blick (Stafford, Staffordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ordinary People [DVD] (DVD)
quite hard going for an oscar winner. Good performance by Timothy Hutton. Not sure why he only won best supporting actor. He was the main charachter, and in the film far more than Mary Tyler Moore.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, raw and unforgettable., 23 Nov 2009
By 
S. Watts - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ordinary People [DVD] (DVD)
I watched "Ordinary People" on a whim a few months back. I was born in '89 so this film was before my time and I hadn't heard about it prior to deciding to watch it. The first time I did see it was through the Xbox 360's Video Streaming system, which for reasons unknown to me, wasn't the full film. A large chunk is cut from the middle of the film. I was unaware of this as I watched it and understandably, the film seemed random and unanswered. BUT, that said, what I did see moved me to such an extent, it was so powerful that I then bought the DVD to watch it again to hopefully make more sense (thinking I had missed something). I soon saw that I missed a majority of it and more importantly, I had missed the most significant features. It is an absolutely stunning film, brilliantly acted, and equally brilliantly written.

From a film that boasts an interestingly modest title, "Ordinary People" explores the extraordinary relationships, circumstances and events that flow through many people's lives. I have suffered grief before in my life, and I have also been in a "suicidal" place so the film struck a personal chord with me. There are so many elements to it that it can relate to so many people on so many different levels without being too intense and depressing. Surprisingly, for the subject and content, the film is weirdly uplifting in places and certainly leaves a long-lasting impression, of which is largely positive. It avoids focusing on the death of the son directly, instead decides to show to fallout from this tragedy through three different people's eyes, showing how they deal with it, each in very different, often destructive ways.

I truly believe this film is unforgettable and from what I have seen of others like it, unique too. I am rarely moved in the way this film moved me. It really draws you into a very believable plot including very believeable characters. The acting is superb and flawless.

I strongly, strongly reccomend you to watch this film. I have shared it with many people of different backgrounds, experiences and emotional "strength", all of which adored it and related to it. I proudly class this film as one of my all-time favourite films and for that reason I urge you to give it the time it deserves. It has so much to offer, and if you like to be emotionally challenged by a film, I promise this film wont disappoint.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent movie Loved it, 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Ordinary People [DVD] (DVD)
An excellent movie Loved it. Watched it when I was 7 years old (ehem not too long ago ish) and I remember thinking even then: Conrad, you're lucky to have a mom, don't get so beat up if she hates you; kak happens; take the French Toast and eat it - it tastes nice and you have a lovely lovely house xo Still an excellent movie in every respect.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary film, 8 April 2014
This review is from: Ordinary People [DVD] (DVD)
Ordinary People is perhaps best-known not for winning the Best Picture Oscar in 1980, but for one particular runner-up. In one of its most notorious decisions, the Academy passed over Raging Bull, arguably the better film on almost every level. I won't go into the evidence here - this is a review of OP after all - other than to point out that RB is now regarded as a modern classic, whereas OP has mostly sunk without trace.

Don't get me wrong - OP is a decent enough film, with solid performances and assured direction from first-time helmer Robert Redford. Mary Tyler Moore is the standout, creating in matriach Beth one of the most dislikeable female characters on the big screen this side of Nurse Ratched. The story of a family torn apart by grief obviously struck a chord with the Academy voters back in 1980, but for me it comes across at times as a bloated TV movie. The film is nothing special to look at, with pedestrian camerawork and choppy editing - it doesn't even come close to the cinematic artistry on display in RB. The special effects in the boating accident flashbacks look as if the studio ran out of money or that the director just couldn't be bothered, with an obviously stationary boat being rocked backwards and forwards.

The final word on which is the better film goes to the DVD presentation. Whereas Raging Bull has been treated to several special editions over the years and is now available in a pristine blu-ray transfer with comprehensive extras, Ordinary People gets a DVD-only release, a transfer complete with scratches and dirt, mono sound, and a trailer. As George Clooney would say, you do the math.
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