Luke ends up in the care of his Aunt and Uncle when his grandmother dies and his grandfather is consequently taken in to care. Having been abandoned by his mother and left on his grandparents door step aged just five, Luke’s life is thrown into disarray.
It’s a warm comedy-drama with an optimistic and uplifting message. Luke strives to get himself a job so that he can find love and live on his own. He wants a normal life, and to be treated like a normal person.
The film has a lot of similarities to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, a book by Mark Haddon, in the way it follows a young person suffering with autism. Both stories have a positive message and are warm and optimistic, they don’t make fun of the disability and those that suffer from it but they don’t portray their lives in such a way that we feel sorry for the protagonists which I think is an important part.
The one issue I had with it was the performance of Lou Taylor Pucci who played lead character Luke. Pucci is not autistic, and while that’s understandable because it would be unlikely for someone with severe autism to want to be an actor, his performance felt to me quite forced. I quickly took to Youtube after watching the film to watch a few interviews with the actor so I could get a feel for how he talks and acts in real life. His performance was undeniably strong and he remained in character flawlessly throughout, and being as the character is so different to how Pucci is normally that’s quite an achievement. The thing that got me the most was the way he spoke, and the way he said certain things (for example the way he said the word ‘job’) now I’ve not known many autistic people, so this is purely my interpretation without much evidence to support it, but it just felt very forced. The way he was speaking wasn’t natural and while his mannerisms and movements were brilliantly acted it was the voice he adopted that made me just slightly skeptical.
That being said, one of the interviews I watched (which can be found here if you’re interested in watching it) was hosted by two women who both have autistic sons, and they were full of praise and admiration for Pucci’s performance. So perhaps that’s the difference between an audience member who’s never experienced autism (i.e. myself) and people for whom the theme of the film touches close to home.
All in all though the film is very warm and the performances are wonderful. Another very good performance comes from Kristin Bauer van Straten (well known for her part as Pam in True Blood) playing Luke’s somewhat misunderstood Aunt. She begins as a seemingly mean, highly strung nasty Aunt but come the end of the film it’s easy to warm to her. She begins to understand her flaws when she talks to Luke properly and learns through his perspective. All the performances are solid, the story is warm and optimistic and it’s actually quite funny. An uplifting and beautiful drama, well worth a watch.