Far From the Tree

Andrew Solomon in Far from the Tree (2017)

With so much concern over where people come from or what religion they follow it is important to remember there is one constant among us all and that is family. Regardless of gender or race a parent’s love for their child is one of the strongest bonds there is. As much as we wish our lives could be perfect there is no telling what situations we will have to face. It is how we deal with these situations that defines us to our deepest core. Based on the New York Times bestselling book by Andrew Solomon Far From the Tree examines how children can be different from their parents in a variety of ways.

Andrew grew up with parents who did not accept him to be homosexual; this made him take a look as to how other families dealt with their children. The film covers the stories of four families with the following traits: Down syndrome, autism, dwarfism and murder. Immediately when listing these conditions there is a glaring difference when mentioning murder. In the case of teenager Trevor who killed an 8 year old boy his story is centered more on the toll it has taken on his family. Their story revolves more around rebuilding the love in their household where as not to focus on the horrific tragedy that struck them and more importantly to not blame themselves for something they had no control over. Out of all the stories this one felt the most out of place but at the same time the theme of film wants to show all different aspects of families.

In the other three cases we are witness to truly heartwarming moments between parents and children. The obstacles they face are beyond difficult either due to outside perception or by the pure patience needed for something they knew nothing about. In the case of Jason a 41 year old with Down syndrome and Jake a 2 year old with severe autism each family strives to overcome the difficulties to provide their child with the best possible life. Watching these parents struggle so hard to watch the slightest improvements is both heartbreaking and empowering because they never stop. In the case of Jason there is an added level of concern as his mother begins to think of his life after she passes. The third story is a combination of two separate tales: one following 23 year old Loini and the other a couple by name of Leah and Joe. In the case of Loini she has never met another person with dwarfism and it isn’t until she travels to a Little People convention that she truly feels a sense of belonging. Leah and Joe are a loving couple who each have the other’s support as well as their families. In the film there is also a theme of equality; in another time these traits would be considered horrible, downright deplorable and something you turn your head away from.

This film shows how deep down inside all we need is love. The love to accept each other’s “flaws” and be able to feel as one. It is the power of love that gives the strength to these parents to push forward so they can give the most to their children. Through acceptance, friendship and embracement of one another we truly can offer each other a better world.

Rating

3 out of 5

Film is in theaters now and available through On-Demand

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