Ordinary People

This story revolves around a family in which the oldest (and arguably favorite) son drowned in a boating accident and could not be rescued by his brother. Beth (played by Mary Tyler Moore) pretty much defines the term, “cold mother.”  Calvin (played by Donald Sutherland) is a caring and conflicted character caught in the middle between his commitment to supporting his wife (who doesn’t want to talk about any of it) and his suicidal son Conrad (played by Timothy Hutton), who cannot help but feel terrible about it. Judd Hirsch brilliantly plays the therapist that helps Conrad and his family.  There are many important psychological layers to this movie, such as what fear can cause people to do to other people, the unforeseen consequences of not addressing painful experiences that are hard to find words to describe, as well as the tormented existence of the people caught in the middle between loyalties to a wife that wants to ignore problems and shield the family from the pity of others, and a son who cannot do so any longer.  This a great depiction of dysfunctional family dynamics and blocked communication presented in a way that makes it difficult to not relate to each principal member of the cast.  There is also a strong theme of self-discovery and recovery.

Amazon Link to Ordinary People

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