Raising Awareness – Rain Man (1988)

Writer’s note: I just finished completing a massive overhaul on the site, and it’s all thanks to my wonderful wife.  Still lots of tweaks to be made, but as far as functionality goes, it’s a gigantic leap forward.

This approach is the way to go when you want to reach people.  So this is about a man who flips cars for a living (Tom Cruise).  He didn’t have the best relationship with his father, so when he finds out that he has passed, he isn’t too surprised to find that he got cut out of his will.  What he is surprised to learn is that he has a long lost brother who has inherited the entirety of the estate (Dustin Hoffman), and to add insult to injury, he has no concept of money, given that he is autistic and in a mental hospital.  My wife and I decide to keep the “theme concept” going on our quest through the list of the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, with this month’s theme being blind spots.  I picked one big movie she hadn’t seen, she picked one that I hadn’t seen, and we both settled on one of the most renown movies that neither of us have seen, with the latter being the Academy Award winning Rain Man.

RAIN MANI’ve made countless references to Rain Man in my everyday life throughout the years, it was time I actually learned what I’ve been talking about.

All of the acting here is first-rate.  Even though he gets a very small amount of credit do to an understandable overshadowing, Tom Cruise shows off just how talented he is here.  In a very short amount of time, you quickly get to know this man: you can tell that this man is a closer, and he wouldn’t be out of place in the Glengarry Glen Ross universe.  He is a flawed human being, and he does a really good job of being the avatar for the audience.  Having somebody to relate to is important here, because there are lots of people out there that aren’t aware of the effects of autism, or have any basic understanding of disorder; there’s a small town nurse featured here who mistakenly thinks that Dustin Hoffman is “artistic”.  While I do consider myself very familiar with the disorder (I have a nephew who has it), I do realize that there are people out there who just don’t know any better, especially back in 1988.

hoffmanI know how much of a method actor Hoffman is, so I am very curious to read about what his process was for this film.

Speaking as somebody who is familiar with the condition, I have to say that Dustin Hoffman absolutely nails it.  He has all of the ticks down, and he never at any point breaks or pushes it to the point of it being over-the-top.  This performance gave him one of his two Oscar wins, and it is absolutely well-deserved.  It’s a delicate subject matter, and because it hits the sweet spot middle ground without ever tip-toeing around the issue or beating you over the head with it, the end result is success exactly as it was intended.  Rain Man ultimately promotes learning and understanding, and because of that, it is an insightful and important film.

Rain Man (1988) ****1/2

– Critic for Hire

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