Directed by Roger Ross Williams

Written by Ron Suskind (based on the book by)

Starring: Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Alan Rosenblatt, Owen Suskind, Ron Suskind

Life Animated is a simple documentary about a neurological disease that affects millions of people. It is hard to not feel moved by this sort of true story, one worthy of telling, and a lot of it hit home for me as my rare type of epilepsy is extremely similar to high-functioning autism. But what hit me the hardest was how easy I have it, compared to the life that Owen has lived, who is the subject of this documentary.

Talking heads, home videos and animated sequences all blend together wonderfully to paint the story of Owen and how he grew up. We first meet him as a 23 year old at the beginning of the movie, where he seems happy, and as the family recount what happened when he was a young child, he will sometimes offer his perspective of what it was like back then ie – a world of noise and colour that he couldn’t understand, a world that overloads his senses. Voices that were ‘garbled’.

Enter Disney, Owen’s gate to the real world. He couldn’t understand the world around him, but animated films helped him understand basic principles about life. When the family realised what was happening, they began to speak in “Disney Dialogue” to him, which opened him up. Their silent child was now suddenly able to have conversations about who we are, about growing up. All via Disney’s work, which of course Owen has memorised.

We are introduced to his girlfriend, and he has his share of struggles when we see the story from the current perspective – which is a journey in itself, in addition to the journey of his younger life that his parents speak of. The girlfriend isn’t a useless plot device either, it leads to a panic that to most people would seem trivial. But to Owen, it means everything, right at that second.

This kid would not be where he is today without his parents, and it is interesting to see how he gets along as a 23 year-old, attempting to move out and be independant. It is almost impossible to root for the guy, he has so much heart and such a kind soul.

Of course though, this doco really brings to light to power of the cinema. In my opinion it is the ultimate form of art, and here we can clearly see that the family-friendly works of Disney helped Owen understand life, what friends are, how to be himself. Everything he learns are all important and poignant points about growing up and trying to make sense of the world.

And we can all learn from that – film, if good enough, can help shape how we see the world, what our beliefs and values are, and how we look at other people.


Infinitely interesting, I can’t recommend this enough. I have a personal attachment to it obviously, but taking into account the variety of talking headsfive beer(1), the wonderfully and apt animated sections and the home videos, this feels like a must see documentary that has enough variety to feel somewhat similar to how the Kurt Cobain documentary was put together, though not as stylish or visually interesting.

Anyone with the faintest interest in autism or even psychology in general will get a lot out of this; it is inspirational and will make you realise that things could be worse.

One beer short of a sixer


8 Comments on “LIFE, ANIMATED

  1. I caught the last part of an interview w/ the filmmaker on this movie, so I’m definitely curious about this one. Glad to hear it’s a good one Jordan. Btw, on a similar note, check out this documentary ‘Thank You For Playing’ which follows parents making a video game about their child’s cancer. It’s heartbreaking but also beautiful to watch. It played at my local film fest last year.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Check it out, it’s a really heart-wrenching but also uplifting story. Hey, hope you’re not to busy to stop by FC one of these days 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • your site is always one I visit first when I have the time Ruth 🙂

        Been a lot busier recently than I am used to, but study is over now so I can get back into my writing. I really, reeeally wanna get my book finished by the end of the year.

        I suppose I have already shamelessly plugged that to you have I? I’m looking to get as much constructive feedback as possible, currently finishing chapter 6


      • Hey Jordan, you absolutely should get your book finished! How long ago did you start writing it? I told you that I finished my script last July right? Well I wrote about it on my Weekend Roundup post, I even shared a screencap of the part w/ the words THE END. It felt good to have finished the draft, though I spent two months editing it, on top of the constant edits I did whilst I was writing it. I had sent it to a film director I met on a screening of his film, he was a script reader for David Fincher so I figure he’s used to reading scripts. I’m hoping to get feedback from him by next week.

        If you want me to read an excerpt just let me know, though I probably won’t have time until November because of the local film fest going on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh wow Ruth, that is a really amazing opportunity!!!! I hope you hear good news about it. Yes I remember when you posted you had finally finished it, I asked if I could read it but you weren’t keen on sharing it at the time. Let me know if you change your mind 🙂

        I started writing my book way, way too long ago. Basically when I got out of rehab, which was over five years ago. I have written so, so much but it is all in notebooks and whatnot cos its all stuff I wrote while I was in there, and I’m using all that to create the story. So its taking time, but if I proper take it seriously and focus, I can finish a first draft by the end of the year. Most of it is already written actually, during boring classes haha, but that means they are also on notepads. so I have to transcribe it all =/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I’m waiting for his feedback w/ bated breath 😀

        He…he.. well I hesitate to show it to you as you don’t care for romance and my script is a love story 🙂 I can email you my logline and the general idea of it, if you’re interested that is.

        Yeah, I think w/ your book, organizing the content sounds like the most challenging part, but at least you know what you want to say and it’s a subject you know very well. So keep at it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll have it done by the end of the year. Just gotta put my head down and transcribe all these scribbling.

        I don’t hate love stories, I really liked Brooklyn for example. I don’t know what a logline is but if you could send that my way that’d be great!

        And good luck!!


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