INDIE REPORT – FLY AWAY
Review by Kerr Lordygan
Beth Broderick and Ashley Rickards star in Janet Grillo’s film about a divorced working mother raising an autistic teen daughter. Rickards won the Reel Frontier Special Jury Award for best performance at the 2011 Arizona International Film Festival, but other than its Prism Award nomination for best feature film dealing with mental health, “Fly Away” has not received it’s due share of award recognition.
Rickards performance as young, autistic Mandy is baffling, uncomfortable and utterly believable. Not having been familiar with her work prior to viewing “Fly Away”, I presumed this was an autistic actor. But then I wondered how possible it would be to direct someone that high on the autism spectrum, and I discovered that she had been on “American Horror Story: Asylum,” and now stars in MTV’s”Awkward.” I marveled at the realistic performance. When you forget you’re watching performances, you know you’re undergoing a brilliant film experience. Rickards should have been noticed for this performance in a much greater capacity. Yet the film seems to have been off the Academy’s radar.
Also in a spot-on natural and moving performance is Beth Broderick (“Sabrina the teenage Witch”) as Mandy’s mother Jeanne. Her representation of this oh-so patient mom reveals such tender care and empathetic love, that I am not likely to forget soon.
The story is not anything new, but it may be to those who are unaware of how autism affects lives. We live the challenge,if only momentarily, with Jeanne and Mandy. It’s a truthful slice of the struggle, and such parental devotion is sure to make us clutch our chests in an effort to hold our hearts as we watch.
“Fly Away” is not an educational film, even though it educates. It is not a docu-drama, even though it documents real struggles. It’s not a film that should only be used to teach something or prove a point. It’s a well-made, natural work of art. It can (and should) be watched by all who appreciate well-made dramatic films, with wholehearted, real comedic moments.
“Fly Away” is available on NetFlix and Amazon instant video.