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My Left Foot (1989) – DVD Review

My Left Foot DVD cover art


Written by Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan, based upon the book by Christy Brown
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison Whelan, Fiona Shaw, Hugh O’Conor


  • “The Real Christy Brown” featurette
  • Making-of featurette
  • Still gallery
  • Reviews

Released by: Miramax.
Rating: R.
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: At least rent it.

Lots of people are born with the odds stacked against them. Christy Brown (O’Conor as a youth, Day-Lewis as an adult) had them stacked up to the point where they pretty much tipped over. Born into a very large and very poor Irish working class family, Brown is stricken with palsy so severe that he’s basically trapped in his own body. He’s got no way to express himself and is, well, written off by everyone but his mother (Fricker). However, he is able to muster control of his left foot enough to be able to write, and eventually paint and type. It is through flat out determination that he’s able to come to terms with his affliction and transcend it to be recognized as an accomplished artist and author.

[ad#longpost]This movie was my first introduction to the chameleon that is Daniel Day-Lewis. Having never seen him before, I was so convinced by his performance that I was certain they had found an actor with palsy to play the role of Christy Brown. Because, I figured, nobody was that good. Imagine my surprise when next he was seen sprinting through the woods as the buff Hawkeye from Last of the Mohicans. While the movie is a good enough biopic, it’s the performances that make it worthwhile, and Day-Lewis’ amazing turn makes it a must-see. The physical transformation is impressive, yes, but it’s what’s going on in Day-Lewis’ head that convinces you. You can see the wheels turning, the intelligence, the struggle. It’s all there and it’s the reason he earned that Oscar. Granted, Day-Lewis is the standout but there’s a rich ensemble backing him up. Brenda Fricker also won for playing his mother, and Hugh O’Conor does a remarkable turn by matching Day-Lewis’ performance–something impressive for anybody, much less a man of his young age.

The main bit of the bonuses are two featurettes. One covers the real Christy Brown, which is short, but nice: and probably the only exposure any of us are going to get to him other than the movie, seeing as how his book is out of print now. There’s also a retrospective talking with folks ten years later, including O’Conor. It’s worth watching, as we get interesting stories about how Day-Lewis stayed in character even between takes and actually broke ribs, he was so into it.

There’s a selection of reviews of the film, which is…puzzling. We know the film is worth watching, otherwise why do we have the DVD in our homes? Do we really need the point driven home like this? Seems kind of self-serving and pointless, honestly. Beyond that, there’s just a still gallery.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown in My Left Foot
Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown

Of course there’s room for improvement here. An audio commentary would be ideal, as would expanded making-of and retrospective features, including the present-day involvement of Day-Lewis and Fricker. But this release is an improvement over the last one, so we won’t argue too terribly. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s worth at least a rental, since Day-Lewis’ performance is positively amazing.

The real Christy Brown
The real Christy Brown

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