General release. Certificate 15 (contains strong language)
Director Damien O'Donnell has facetiously described how he pitched his latest film to potential backers as "One Flew Over My Left Foot". The definition catches his film's interlocking themes of escape from institutional care and disability. What it misses is the overall humanity of the project which has resulted in a remarkable and compelling story of two unlikely buddies in which their extreme physical needs - Michael has cerebral palsy, Rory has Duchenne muscular dystrophy - actually cease early on to occupy central stage.
They are fascinating characters in circumstances that while often poignant or amusing are never treated sentimentally. O'Donnell and scriptwriter Jeffrey Caine apparently spent a lot of time "learning from disabled people" and had consultant Maureen Gilbert on hand as the film was in production to advise them. What emerges is a clear depiction of the social model of disability even if accuracy is sacrificed occasionally in the cause of poetic licence.
According to John Korner of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign - a fan of the film - practitioners might wonder at the grim depiction of the young men's care home at the start and query the levels of care they appear to require once they achieve their sought-after independence. But both are justified, he concedes, in the cause of upping the dramatic ante.
The film has been criticised for casting non-disabled actors in the principal roles. For O'Donnell, the commitment to getting the best actors he could was always the priority in so character-driven a tale.
The film's reception at the 9th National Schools' Film Week underlined its potential to engage and provoke empathy and debate.
DISABLING IMAGERY: A BFI EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE PACK.
Available to schools for pound;10 inc pp. For other buyers, it costs Pounds 15 inc pp and VAT.