Movie Review: Chocolate

2011-12-08 17:44

Chocolate is a Thai film about an autistic girl. It’s a martial arts movie; the premise is that this particular autistic girl can imitate martial arts moves that she’s seen.

I liked it. The autistic kid is handled pretty well, I think. They don’t shy away from her inability to handle certain stimuli or unplanned changes of routine. The superpower is a little unrealistic (well, okay, a lot), but they make up for this very well by playing with the choreography so that she fights in a way that makes sense, especially early on. It’s hard to explain how this works, but she tends to pay no visible attention to things she’s not interested in, and when she acts, she acts only exactly as much as is needed. She doesn’t turn to catch things, she just moves her hands. Until I saw this, I hadn’t realized why I play catch “wrong”, or what I was doing wrong, but that’s it. I’ll just stand there watching a ball until I know where it’s going, then move. If I don’t have to move anything but my arm, I don’t, because why would you do that?

Watching this, I am pretty sure that at least some of the people involved had spent a fair bit of time with autistic people, and had come to the realization that this isn’t all-good or all-bad, but mostly different. There’s sort of a balance there that I rarely see; either we get OMG THAT IS SO HORRIBLE responses or I AM SUPERIOR TO THESE MONKEYS. It’s nice to see someone recognize that this isn’t all one or the other.

Some people might feel that it’s ridiculous for this in some ways fairly competent girl to, say, utterly freak out when informed that today is not actually going to be go-out day, even though it should be. I do not feel it ridiculous. I’m on the way high functioning end of the spectrum in a lot of ways, but I still remember the time my mom screwed up a routine.

I was maybe 4ish or 5ish. It was winter. In winter, I get into the car, mom starts the car, then goes and scrapes the windows. When it becomes possible to see into the car through one of the windows, she waves at me. And one day, she forgot to wave, finished scraping the windows, and got into the car. I still have a hard time articulating why this was wrong; at the time, all I could do was cry. I think I must have managed to communicate that waving was involved, so my mom waved at me. From inside the car, which just made it worse. Somehow she figured it out (or I managed to express it), so she got out, and waved at me through the window. Boom. HAPPY! World is acting according to plan. Procedure has been followed.

I’m a lot more flexible now, but I still get really squicked when people are off-plan. So, yeah, I think that’s a realistic depiction.

Peter Seebach

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Comment

  1. Most toddlers are this attached to routine. They typically grow out of it by 3 or 4.

    Dave Leppik · 2011-12-09 10:58 · #

 
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