“Far From the Tree:” How Families Cope with a Member Who Isn’t Like the Others

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

far from the tree

The old saying about parents and children says, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” But what about when it does? Fueled by his life-long struggles with his sexual identity and his parents’ disapproval of it, author Andrew Solomon wrote a book, which has now been adapted into this surprisingly moving documentary. In it, Solomon explores various incidences of children being very different from their families: a grown man with Downs syndrome whose mother worries about his ability to tell fantasy from reality; a teenage boy with autism that robs him of the ability to speak; a 23-year-old woman trapped in a body the size of an eight-year-old; a man with hands and feet, but almost no arms or legs; and a mentally sound teenager who murdered a young boy for no apparent reason. Looking at these situations might seem like a downer, but do not be deceived – to assume as much would be to miss the opportunity to feel and grow: the same opportunity that these families would’ve lost if they’d have simply had offspring more similar to themselves. Solomon also poses an increasingly important question: how do we decided which differences to “cure” and which to celebrate? If we had perfect control (which science offers/threatens to eventually provide), would we lose the very variety that has made us what we are as a species? This film will move you and hopefully open your mind to see past the discomfort of perceived suffering that so often blinds us when we consider difference. This is both the challenge and the prize: to look, and to see beyond, and to celebrate differences as loudly as so many now do the LGBTQ community. THE WORD: “Unhappiness is all the same, it’s all the ways we find to be happy that are unique.” COMING TO: Theaters

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Last modified: August 15, 2018