Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Robert Redford's directorial debut ended up the 1980 Oscar winner for Best Picture. It is a simple but painfully emotional story of the disintegration of a "perfect" family. Teenager Conrad (Timothy Hutton) lives under a cloud of guilt after his brother drowns after their boat capsizes in Lake Michigan. Despite intensive therapy sessions with his psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch), Conrad can't shake the belief that he should have died instead of his brother; nor do his preoccupied parents (Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore) offer much in the way of solace. The boy is brought out of his doldrums through his romance with Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern). A winner in every respect, Ordinary People (adapted from the novel by Judith Guest) scores highest in the scenes with Mary Tyler Moore, who superbly and perceptively portrays a blinkered, ever-smiling suburban wife and mother for whom outward appearance is all that matters.
child, accident, coming-of-age, death, death-in-family, drowning, dysfunctional, family, family-member, family-tragedy, forbidden-love, guilt, relationship, suicide, suicide-attempt, teenagers, tension, wealth
High Artistic Quality