Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
"...the kind of rare movie that comes along and touches the heart in all the right places."
Based on the short story by David Gerrold bearing the same title, Martian Child is the kind of rare movie that comes along and touches the heart in all the right places. It features John Cusack (Serendipity, 1408) as David Gordon, a science fiction writer who is still grieving the loss of his wife. Joan Cusack (Ice Princess), Cusack’s real life sister, plays the role of David’s sensible but supportive and loving sister Liz. Amanda Peet (Something’s Gotta Give) gives a sincere effort as she plays David’s long time friend Harlee. Viewers are treated to a wonderful performance by young actor Bobby Coleman (Friends with Money) who skillfully portrays Dennis, the boy that David eventually adopts.
The story is a timeless one about unconditional love, acceptance, and fulfilling the need to belong, but somehow what is captured in this film transcends the “cheese” factor that other similarly themed films seem to dissolve into. The cinematography directed by Robert Yeoman is full of muted colors, clean lines and gorgeous lighting that allow the truly luminous quality of the movie to come from the actors and the well crafted screenplay written by Seth Bass and Jonathan Tolins.
At the start of the film, the viewer slowly is made aware of David’s current situation . . . his grief, his earlier plans to adopt with his wife, his desire to love. We are also made aware of Dennis’s situation, a boy who has been abandoned but is lovingly cared for by Sophie, played by Sophie Okenedo (Hotel Rwanda) in a home for older children available for adoption. Dennis has learned to cope with the brokenness of his situation by pretending to have come from Mars and basically retreating from any social interaction. As David makes his decision to adopt Dennis, the viewer learns just how significant his other relationships are, that of the relationship he has to his sister Liz, his childhood friend Harlee, and his agent..
David and Dennis strain towards each other, and David wisely displays patience, acceptance and loving gentleness as he deals with a troubled little boy who just can’t seem to fit in. I couldn’t help but think of the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 that describe love as being patient, kind, slow to anger and keeping no record of wrongs as over and over David reaches out to Dennis in ways that truly prove his love for this child
The movie itself moves gently along, but in spite of its slower pace is highly engaging because the viewer is caught up so quickly in David’s devotion to Dennis. It’s also easy for an adult viewer to relate to the struggles a parent has when dealing with the demands of parenthood and career. The movie is not without humorous situations so the drama is peppered with levity at just the right places. I was also impressed with the natural chemistry that existed between John and Joan Cusack. It was easy to see that they were able to pull from real life experiences in order to portray the love and tension that exists when adult siblings struggle to support each other.
While most anyone with a beating heart and a measure of compassion will be able to enjoy this film, I think people who have had the fortune of giving and receiving unconditional love will find it a very personal story. The fact that it is based on the true story of David Gerrold and his own adopted son Sean allows us to see that the real true story is happening all around us in relationships we are involved in every day. And as I watched, it was very easy for me to see the parallels between David and Dennis and a heavenly Father and me. As David relentlessly but gently pursues Dennis, Dennis slowly responds as he trusts David to love him always. It’s a beautiful and moving picture of how our own Father never gives up on us and meets us where we are time and time again
I enjoyed this movie and will probably sit down and watch it again with my own children. There are so many good lessons presented that we can talk about as a family, and I think my children will relate to Dennis on a level that maybe I’ve forgotten how to do as an adult. Great movie, lovely performances, beautiful story. It’s one for your DVD collection at home.
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Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com