There’s no debating the value of Roger Ross William‘s accomplishment. In Life, Animated – a touching documentary centered on late-onset autism “victim” Owen Suskind and how he remarkably rediscovers language through animated Disney films – he has given voice to the voiceless (technical ingenuity had him pioneer a groundbreaking method to illicit confessionals from Owen). In Owen’s journey, we discover universal truisms that extent far beyond the realm of the autistic; bone-clattering truths about life, love, loss and suffering. Original animation from Mac Guff helps fill in the documentarian voids and provides stirring and visually resplendent representations of Owen’s young years and the self-penned stories he would escape into. Framing Owen’s relationships – with family members, his girlfriend Emily and some very special friends – in such a way that rejuvenates our collective faith in humanity, William’s picture is an objective triumph, one that shines a light on a misunderstood population, that weaves triumph from tragedy and crafts a moving portrait of perseverance. It’s a tribute to an uncommon hero and is truly something special. (A)
*Capsule reviews of 100 words from the Seattle International Film Festival.