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3.9 out of 5 stars19
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 9 March 2010
Mozart and the Whale is a simple premise: two people meet, fall in love, and go through the ups-and-downs of all relationships. If that sounds all too ordinary, then Donald and Isabelle, the two principal characters, are not ordinary people: they have Asperger's Syndrome, a form of Autism that, among other things, makes social interaction difficult. I also have Asperger's and I want to review the film on that basis. The film starts with Donald, who runs an Autism group for adults. They are an odd assortment but, as the film moves on, you sense that they really are a community of kind, caring individuals who genuinely support Donald through his troubles. One of the members of the group also provides the best line of the film: (said to Donald), `Stick with the group; next to us you're a God'. Indeed, Donald does seem very normal until, that is, Isabelle joins the group and they fall for each other. The film is based on an actual couple and what they went through trying to form a relationship is sad, funny, and immensely touching. For those without the condition, it may also be a little bizarre although, I can attest, this really is the world as we experience it. There are a lot of funny lines - Asperger's people can be very amusing - and you desperately want the characters to find a way of being together by the end of the film. I won't spoil that part for you though. For those without Asperger's, the film is a quirky, offbeat, romantic-comedy that is gentle and good fun. You won't feel like you are being preached at, you won't feel as if you are watching a documentary about mental illness, and you might well think that Asperger's people are no different to ordinary people - we just freak about different things.
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on 2 January 2007
Asperger's syndrome is usually marked by those who have normal intelligence and language development, but who also exhibit autistic-like behavior and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills. In this quiet and understated little film, Josh Hartnet and Australian actress Rahda Mitchell play two young people afflicted.

Hartnet stars as Donald Morton, a cab-driver who maintains a support group for disorder-laden individuals. Although he is afflicted himself, Donald has a phenomenal talent for numbers whilst also seeming to lead a pretty ordinary life, although he gets fired from jobs on a regular basis and has trouble keeping his apartment clean and tidy, especially with his collection of birds that constantly run amok.

Donald is a bit of a kind-hearted and shy loner, who refuses to look people in the eye and or directly respond to questions. This causes a problem when he meets the gorgeous Isabelle (Mitchell) who joins the group. Whilst Donald is bashful and introverted, Isabelle is full of energy and life, she says what's on her mind and is impulsively creative - she loves to paint and is musical.

It doesn't take long for Donald and Isabelle to get together, with Isabelle making the first move. She invites him to a Halloween fancy dress party, where is dresses as Mozart and he as a whale. When he nervously brings her his cluttered apartment, Isabelle announces that "this is all about sex," but you can tell that there's obviously a bourgening emotional connection happening.

The rest of the story details their efforts to form some sort of meaningful attachment. The film mostly works, mostly because of the fine work of the talented Mitchell and Hartnett - you can really sense their connection here, and also because the story manages mostly to avoid being cloying and contrived. There's no fake Hollywood sentimentality here.

This is also an important film for Josh Hartnett, because its his first screen performance that shows he's not just a pretty face and that he has some serious acting chops. Of course, how Donald and Isabelle navigate through their various insecurities is why we keep watching. Donald falls in love and wants to marry, but Isabelle is haunted by sexual abuse and can't seem to commit.

Also, the tiniest slight unhinges Isabelle, creating legitimate doubt as to whether she, more than Donald, can ever handle a permanent relationship. The film provides a lot of good solid detail into how these people function and cope on a daily basis and nothing is ever condescending or viewed as superfluous.

As one of Australia's most talented actresses, Mitchell socks her role as the fragile and brittle Isabelle, whose emotional insecurity is buried under a fabulously attractive exterior; and by virtue of her character's assertiveness, she dominates the screen. But it is Hartnett's beautifully nuanced performance as the awkward and retiring Donald that is equally closely observed, as the actor makes quite affecting his character's hopes, desires and dreams. Mike Leonard January 07.
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on 24 April 2009
/This review contains no plot-spoilers/ Technically this is a flawlessly made film. The story is well-told, with convincing and consistent acting from all the cast. The dialogue is precise and well-crafted. The characters are varied, and while this usefully conveys that that 'all aspergers people are different', they also work well together in the ensemble scenes. Some reviewers have not initially been able to see the female lead as 'having aspergers' - I also had some initial doubts, but I was convinced after a second and third viewing. A worthy and moving film that is gripping on the first viewing, and which starts to shine ever-brighter as a little classic after several viewings.
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on 20 January 2010
A very touching and intersting movie, I was not expecting it to be as good as it was. Get it you will enjoy it!!
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on 21 August 2010
Firstly, the acting in this film is really good, it gets across what it's like to suffer from aspergers from the point of view of those suffering from it, rather than from an outsiders view, as is so often the case with these films. I'm not a fan of Harnett, but I really admire him for this role.

I wont be doing a run down of the plot as others have already done that.

It doesn't focus on one particular variance of Apergers, instead showing you lots of different sufferers, although the two main characters have a similar variance, which is really what brings them together.

I have to say that although I enjoyed this greatly while watching it, it hasn't left much of a lasting impression on me. That, coupled with the fact that I felt the storyline was a little too formulaiac, is what has caused my lower score on this.

So I think this is a really good film to see, as it is an enjoyable watch, with some deeper meaning to it, but for me, not something I think I'd watch again.
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on 9 December 2012
There are two main points that stand out in this film:
1. Asperger's sufferers are generally aware of the fact.
2. Just because they act differently to 'the norm', they don't necessarily want to.

Without getting technical, like some other reviewers, this is a great movie, and a good starting-point for anyone who has an Asperger's sufferer in their life. Josh Hartnett plays his role particularly well, and watching and listening to his character really brings home the simple day-to-day difficulties encountered by sufferers and those who come into contact with them.

An understanding of what is happening within is sometimes all that is required...
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on 25 February 2013
I love this film. The two lead characters are on the Autism Spectrum. There are obvious and subtle differences in their AS. This is important, as one well known author on Asperger's Syndrome, Tony Attwood says "if you meet one person with Asperger's, you have met one person with Asperger's". No two people 'with it' are the same. I particularly liked that in this film the character 'Isobel' holds quite intense eye contact, while the character 'Donald' finds eye contact very difficult, that does not define AS by any stretch of course, but it illustates how the characters have been allowed to represent variety. Some reviewers of this film here and elsewhere have expressed irritation at Isobel, finding her represenation perhaps eccentic more than autistic. Personally I am fine with seeming eccentic and AS, I have had lots of pets and I'm a painter :/ and more than a tad chaotic, most of the time. So it was easy for me to identify with Isobel, and I totally understand that thousands of others would not identify with Isobel's character, and that is the way AS is. To quote a Psychiatrist in the film 'Asperger's is a funny animal'. A lovely film.
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on 28 June 2010
I loved this film. It was simple and sweet. Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell are excellent as two people suffering aspergers syndrome who persist in their efforts to build a life together against the odds. The supporting cast are also great, with the characters carrying us along the Josh and Radha ride, through odd little moments in a quirky script. Josh Hartnett is excellent in the role, without being over-the-top. And there are some wonderfully simplistic moments when he's enthralled by the digital numbers on the Microwave, or when he's having a conversation about sex while mesmerised by the rotation of a spin-dryer in the launderette. I can't think of one thing I don't like about this film. Great cast, great acting, great script. A simple story that works.
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on 31 August 2009
i see it has rainman just funnier with a better story line. i love josh hartnett so i can sit through most films with this is but even one of my friends said it was good which i was suprise about.

this film is about two austic people who find love. its about the struggles they go through to get together and through the arguements getting closer. this film reminds you of when you first fell in love and what you had to do to keep that person there.

this film is brilliant and i would recomeend it to anyone that has a heart and i good sense of humour :-)
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on 10 January 2013
I have aspergers and as having it this is a good film to watch to understand how it feels as it best for parents to understand people who are in there teens.
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