Ordinary People (1980)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 124 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Richard Gilliam

Ordinary People deals with the aftermath of a family tragedy. An upscale married couple (Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore) are overwhelmingly unhappy, though their social standing and repressed emotions dictate that they must not admit it to each other. They have lost one son in a boating accident, and the film focuses on their surviving teenage son (Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton) who himself is recovering from a suicide attempt. What distinguishes Ordinary People is the uncommonly convincing way in which it depicts its characters, and the superb performance of Moore. First-time director Robert Redford took home an Oscar, as did the film for Best Picture, as well as Hutton and screenwriter Alvin Sargent. Ordinary People won its Oscars over Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, often voted the best film of the 1980s. As a result, Ordinary People has often been critically ignored despite its many outstanding qualities.