Ordinary People

Everything is in its proper place... except the past.

124 min     7.4     1980     USA


Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the other son. Conrad is overcome by grief and misplaced guilt to the extent of a suicide attempt. He is in therapy. Beth had always preferred his brother and is having difficulty being supportive to Conrad. Calvin is trapped between the two trying to hold the family together.


Wuchak wrote:
_**Potent drama with Hutton, Sutherland, Moore and Hirsch**_ A family in an affluent neighborhood north of Chicago tries to recover after a tragedy. Timothy Hutton plays the troubled son who gets help from a therapist (Judd Hirsch) while Donald Sutherland & Mary Tyler Moore play the seemingly okay parents. “Ordinary People” (1980) was Robert Redford’s debut movie in the director’s chair and it was a huge success. The story is two-pronged: It’s a coming-of-age drama about the anxious son at home, school, therapy and his relationships with the fairer sex, as well as a marital drama about the parents. This was Hutton’s first theatrical movie, but you wouldn’t know that by his powerhouse performance, which is on the level of Brando. It’s interesting how simple, realistic drama can be more compelling than some overblown “blockbuster” with an explosion every five minutes. Winsome Elizabeth McGovern is a highlight as one of the girls the son dates. On the negative side, the storm sequences are pretty artificial, reminiscent of a TV flick, and the story almost drowns in its unrelenting drama in the last act (I said “almost”). The film runs 2 hours, 4 minutes, and was mostly shot in suburbs north of Chicago, e.g. Lake Forest and Highland Park. GRADE: B