Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Story of Luke

Last night I should have been working on my thesis. Instead, I decide to procrastinate by watching The Story of Luke.

Luke, 25, is autistic and lives a sheltered life with his grandparents. But his world is suddenly turned upside down when his grandmother dies and he is forced to live with his dysfunctional relatives who have no patience for him or his senile grandfather, who they quickly force into a nursing home. Luke is left with his grandfather’s final semi-coherent words: “Get a job. Find a girl. Live your own life. Be a man!” For the first time in his life, Luke has a mission. He is about to embark on a quest.

I really enjoyed watching The Story of Luke. I laughed and I cried. And while there were parts that made me sad and a little angry - it gave me hope. 

Hope that The Boy could find a place in the world. Hope that someone in this world will want to understand him and give him a chance. There was so much of Luke that reminded me of The Boy (whose middle name happens to be Luke, after the Jedi, not the apostle).

What I loved about Luke is his confidence, he knows who he is and refuses to let others diminish or devalue his abilities. Luke, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, not only has a innocent charm about him, but this sense of determination and will to succeed. 

The cast was amazing! Cary Elwes was fantastic, (I've had a crush on him since The Princess Bride - who hasn't?) as Uncle Paul - he was honest and warm. And Kristin Bauer (True Blood) as Aunt Cindy was perfect. One of my favorite lines of the movie is when she says to Luke, "I don't need to understand you, but it's good to have dreams."

The Story of Luke is an honest portrayal of family relations - family is complex. It's difficult to be the parent/caretaker of someone with a disability. It's hard to watch your parents grow old and care for themselves. It's hard to grow old and have to depend on your children. It's hard on a marriage and/or family when it has to take on the role of caregiver to a relative - The Story of Luke doesn't shy away from any of that. Family isn't always tolerant, accepting or understanding of family members who are elderly or have a disability. The responsibility of them is often thought of as inconvenience.

I loved watching the whole family dynamic transform with Luke in their lives. While it's obvious they know nothing about autism and have had limited contact with him, by the end of the movie, the family has not only accepted Luke as a member of the family - they love him. More importantly, they need him. Luke's relatives become compassionate, and it is the compassion that comes with day to day experience.   

The Story of Luke goes beyond being a movie about autism, it's about understanding, acceptance and compassionate for others. One of the key takeaways from The Story of Luke is that "Everybody is good at something." Everyone - regardless of the their disability - can do something. Everyone has something to contribute. And everyone's contribution is important.

   

Disclaimer: I ordered (paid for) The Story of Luke on demand. I have not been influenced in any way, all opinions are my own.    

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.

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