CAPSULE: Director William Davenport introduces us to twelve autistic but high-functioning adults. He profiles the world of these people who have the condition and has them talk about themselves: who they are, the challenges they face, and how the condition affects their families and co-workers. We are introduced to a culture of the autistic: a culture we may not have known existed. The film has a by-the-numbers documentary style and presents its information in a straightforward manner. TOO SANE FOR THIS WORLD is the first film in a projected three-film series. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Most people know that there is a brain development condition called autism. But ask them whether it is a mental condition, a developmental condition, or an illness, and few will know. Director William Davenport demonstrates this to us by asking passersby on the street. He then gives us the product of extensive interviews with twelve high-functioning adults on the autism spectrum. Few people whom autism has not personally touched really have much of a grasp on what it is and how it affects the people who have it and the people who know them. Until recently one heard about autistic children, but rarely about adults. Many people learned about autism first by seeing the film TEMPLE GRANDIN. Temple Grandin herself introduces TOO SANE FOR THIS WORLD to give us a perspective on the comments of twelve autistic adults.
What is autism? Autism and autism spectrum disorder constitute a set of complex disorders of brain development. No two people handle this condition the same way. Generally people who know about autism know that many people are autistic but still are "high-functioning." Davenport introduces us to a diverse set of autistic people and lets them talk about themselves and their relation to the people in their lives, and what they want the public to know.
Among the interviewees is Greg Yates. As a boy Greg was always more excited by science and electronics than in meeting people and being socially active. Years later Greg's wife read a book about an autistic French scientist/artist who had a personality much like Greg's. It was Greg's wife who first suggested to Greg that he might be autistic. He found that indeed he had the symptoms of a form of autism, Asperger syndrome, and realized that he himself was autistic. Like Greg, there are many people who are autistic and just never realized that they fall into the spectrum.
Frequently the interviewees just knew that there was something different about themselves but never associated their behavior with autism. Typically they may not know how to interpret other people's facial expressions. These people go through life feeling that they just do not fit in. Many feel they are marginalized and discriminated against. They have to decide if they want to act like the "neurotypical" (non-autistic) people around them or to accept their differences. They must decide if they want to try to fit in or are they happy as they are? As they discuss their backgrounds these common themes come out.
One by one we meet the twelve subjects of this film and find out about their past, their insights into their condition, the way they have been treated by others, etc. There are many commonalities in their past. Autistic children tend to be bullied by other children. Bullies recognize that the autistic children are different and somehow feel that these odd children do not belong in the community or are easy marks.
The film spends much of its time profiling Robyn Steward who had been a close friend of the director. They each had collaborated on the other's work. Robyn is a fast talking artist and musician who often writes about her experiences.
Twelve subjects in all give a composite picture of the situation for the autistic adult fitting into society. The film is short, just over an hour, but it opens up to the world a subculture to which few people have given much thought. I rate TOO SANE FOR THIS WORLD a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. It will be released on DVD on April 8 and will be On Demand for Amazon Instant, Hulu, and Cinema Libre on May 8.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2081405/combined
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2014 Mark R. Leeper