Sometimes the critics get it wrong about a movie … but not this time! On the definitive movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, the biopic Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes has a perfect 100 percent rating from critics and a glowing 94 percent audience score. The site sums up the consensus as: “A heartfelt glimpse into Temple Grandin’s mind, this engrossing biopic reaches its full potential thanks to Claire Danes’ unsentimental performance.”
This film may have come out in 2010, but if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth a watch.
Directed by Mick Jackson, the movie showcases the life story of Dr. Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who became a pioneer in animal science and a globally recognized advocate for autism awareness. The film captures the essence of Grandin’s remarkable life, showcasing her struggles, triumphs, and groundbreaking contributions.
At the heart of the film lies Danes’ amazing portrayal of Grandin. Danes does a great job sharing the nuances of Grandin’s character, portraying her with a depth and authenticity. Her portrayal beautifully captures Grandin’s unique perspective, her challenges in navigating a world that doesn’t always understand her, and her incredible intellect coupled with the difficulties posed by her disability. She talks about how she “sees in pictures,” but what exactly does that mean?
The film immerses the audience into Grandin’s world, which further explains her sensory experiences and thought processes. Through unique cinematography and storytelling, viewers are given a glimpse into Grandin’s mind, experiencing her visual thinking and how she perceives and interacts with the world around her. The film is entertaining, yet also enlightening, which nurtures understanding of autistic people. That said, I acknowledge that the movie is not without controversies among the autistic community now in the 2020s, specifically about some outdated ideas and terminology Grandin herself uses in real life and as is portrayed in the film.
But for those who appreciate our livestock industry and support animal welfare, Temple Grandin will resonate strongly and positively. At the core of the film is Grandin’s deep connection with animals. Her ability to empathize the sensory experiences of animals becomes a driving force in her career. The film beautifully portrays how her empathy for animals guides her to revolutionize livestock handling, designing humane systems that minimize stress and harm to animals. Her work in this field not only reshaped industry practices but has also underscored the importance of our treatment of animals.
As most know, she goes on to become one of the worlds most famous and well respected academic experts in livestock handing.
Moreover, Temple Grandin delves into the challenges faced by Grandin in a society that often struggled to comprehend her differences. From her childhood, where she faced bullying and social ostracization due to her unconventional behavior, to her journey through academia and the professional world, the film paints a picture of resilience and determination. It’s a testament to Grandin’s unwavering spirit and her ability to navigate a world that often struggled to accommodate her unique way of thinking. Especially in decades past, women just weren’t respected in the cattle world and she worked hard to overcome many challenges.
The supporting cast, including Julia Ormond as Grandin’s mother and David Strathairn as her mentor, enrich the narrative with emotional depth and complexity. Ormond’s portrayal shows a mother’s journey of understanding and supporting her daughter, while Strathairn’s character highlights the crucial role of mentors in recognizing and nurturing exceptional talent, regardless of societal norms.
Overall, Temple Grandin is more than just a biopic; it’s a powerful testament and celebration of diversity. It challenges viewers to embrace neurodiversity, creating a greater understanding and appreciation for different perspectives that exist within society. The film’s impact extends beyond the screen, inspiring empathy, acceptance, and the recognition of the extraordinary potential that lies within us all, regardless of our differences.
Michelle Miller, the “Farm Babe,” is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer, and social media influencer and travels full time to advocate for agriculture. She comes from an Iowa-based row crop and livestock farming background and now resides on a timber farm in North Central Florida.