Life, Animated

Life, Animated


His imagination unlocked an amazing new world.

Coming-of-age documentary biography on Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate - by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. From director Roger Ross Williams, winner of the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2010.... More

"At three years old, a chatty, energetic little boy named Owen ceased to speak, disappearing into autism with apparently no way out. Almost four years passed and the only stimuli that engaged Owen were Disney films. Then one day, his father donned a puppet - Iago, the wisecracking parrot from Aladdin - and asked “what’s it like to be you?” And poof! Owen replied, with dialogue from the movie.

"Life, Animated tells the remarkable story of how Owen found in Disney animation a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world. By evocatively interweaving classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life, the film explores how identification and empathy with characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel forge a conduit for him to understand his feelings and interpret reality." (Sundance Film Festival)Hide

  • Directing Award (Documentary) winner at Sundance Film Festival 2016

  • Directed by Roger Ross Williams ('God Loves Uganda')

    • Animated, Documentary
    • 88mins
    • Rating: PG Mild themes and coarse language
    • USA, France

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Flicks Review

Human psychology and animated children’s films are two very different things that connect with me on a personal level, like a spinal cord that brings fluency to my identity. I felt grateful that Pixar’s Inside Out brought my two interests together but now I just feel spoiled with the appearance of this hugely affectionate, ponderously observant look at an autistic man (same age as me) whose own identity is largely influenced by Disney films. It’s the first film of the festival to make my eyes go puffy.

[Mini-Review From The 2016 NZIFF]

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 1 ratings, 1 reviews
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This is an incredible story and beautifully told. You'll fall in love with Owen Suskind. I can't remember the last time a film moved me so much.
A beautiful family and the wonderful way they got their son to talk and converse with the world around him. And Owen is just a remarkable, kind hearted young man! I think we all need to be more like Owen. Can't recommend this enough, but have the tissues close by. 5 Stars

The Press Reviews

93% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • The film is a documentary gem. Full Review

  • A warm testament to a family's love and resilience. Full Review

  • It's a beguiling mix of animated storytelling and narration that doesn't flinch from exploring the emotional highs and lows that accompany a life with autism. Full Review

  • I had to fight off skepticism about Life, Animated - it feels a little tidy. But maybe there is something to be gained from identifying with a character onscreen if you have immense difficulty navigating the world. Full Review

  • A young autistic man connects to the world through Disney animated movies. Instead of false hope, this truly inspirational film offers up possibility, the chance of a stimulus that might get past the blocks of developmental disorder. Full Review

  • Mr. Williams's decision to prioritise his subject's point of view feels frustratingly restrictive. Belabouring the cartoon connection, the director leaves the family struggles that enrich Mr. Suskind's 2014 book of the same title stubbornly veiled. Full Review

  • "Life, Animated" makes fascinating points, about the power of cinema, about meeting our loved ones where they are and, as Ron says, about who gets to decide what constitutes a meaningful life. Full Review

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