REASON I JUMP, THE
(director: Jerry Rothwell; screenwriters: based on the book by Naoki Higashida/Ansuman Bhagat; cinematographer: Ruben Woodin Dechamps; editor: David Charap; music: Nainita Desai; cast:Ansuman Bhagat, Jim Fujiwara, Sourav Kumar, David Mitchell, Jordan O’Donegan; Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer:Jeremy Dear, Stevie Lee, Al Morrow; BFI; 2020-UK- in English and Krio, with subtitles)
“Informative documentary on autism.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Jerry Rothwell (“The School in the Cloud”/”Sour Grapes”) informative documentary on autism is based on the 2007 nonfiction book The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, which he wrote at age 13. The novelist David Mitchell and his wife K. A. Yoshida, parents of an autistic child, translated the book into English in 2013.
Higashida is a nonspeaking autistic Japanese person. He wrote the book to clue people into “what’s going on in the minds of people with autism.” It’s styled as a Q. and A., answering 58 questions like, “What are your thoughts on autism itself?”
We’re told the stories of five nonspeaking autistic people on four continents. At times, using soundtracks such as the creak of trampoline springs to make it more lively.
In India, Amrit’s drawings fill a gallery show. In Sierra Leone, Jestina faces a stigma against children unable to care for their aging parents. Ben and Emma, from Arlington, Va., began a friendship that began in preschool and now are communicating through a letter board.
But despite the film’s earnest intentions, I still have no clue what it’s like to be an autistic child (one of the film’s impossible aims) and what their inner world is like. Yet I fully appreciate that everyone concerned made an honest effort for an emotionally sound translation to be possible.
REVIEWED ON 1/15/2021 GRADE: B