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Recommended age 12-18
127 minutes
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LANGUAGE ARTS cover image Click to play video trailer
An emotionally compelling film, with impeccable performances and superb cinematography, Language Arts provides viewers with a glimpse into the lives of parents of children with disabilities as well as the children themselves.

Language Arts follows a man on his life journey. As a student, he befriends Dana, an autistic boy who is part of a program at his school. Dana is bullied by other students every day and, after an especially horrid incident involving a pen and a pantsing, Dana's life is in danger. The film fast-forwards and the young man is now an English teacher with an autistic son named Cody and a strained marriage. Over the duration of the film, life comes full circle for him as he reconnects with his past and comes to terms with the struggles he faces through his student's photography project.

The film's director, Cornelia "Corrie" Dury´┐Że, is part of the disabled community herself, as she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia and severe multiple chemical sensitivity. Her youngest son, who makes a cameo in the film, has ASD. Four actors in the film also have ASD, including Mickey Rowe , who is an incredible actor with great depth of emotion and, evidently, personal experience that fuels his conviction to the role. Lincoln Lambert plays Dana, and his portrayal of an autistic student is very compelling. The cinematography accents the turmoil faced by the characters, with many crisp and evocative close-ups, and music accents every poignant moment. Some of the cuts between years and ages of characters make the film tough to understand at the start, but the story unrolls as it develops in a magnificent fashion.

Language Arts promotes accepting each other for who they are; making friends with those that are different from you; and working together, which can help people overcome what may seem like an insuperable hurdle. The film does contain some profanity, portrayals of fights, and various instances of ableism. There are also some graphic scenes where Dana is violently bullied.

I give Language Arts 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. The film will resonate with parents of disabled children. It is available now on VOD.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Kid Reporter, age 15

Language Arts is an emotional film that covers a wide variety of heavy, yet entertaining topics. This film has talented actors, great sets, relatable storylines, strong characters and fabulous cinematography. The creativity of this film is so cool, although it is sometimes a little bit confusing.

The storyline follows Charles Marlow (Ashley Zukerman) as he deals with family issues and connects with differently abled people throughout his life. As some young autistic patients start sparking memories of his childhood, we travel back to those times with him. As we visit his past, we see young Charles Marlow (Elliott Smith) and Dana McGucken (Lincoln Lambert) in elementary school, meeting and marrying Allison Forche-Marlow (Sarah Shahi) and then dealing with his disabled son, Cody Marlow (Kieran Walton). We get even more backstory about young Charles as kid and observe his life with his constantly arguing parents.

Language Arts has many fantastic elements; one of them being the incredibly well-chosen actors. The emotional story leads to deeply developed characters, which requires talented actors to pull off. Each actor portrays their character very well. Some of the best performances are from Elliott Smith as young Charles Marlow and Sarah Shahi as Allison Forche-Marlow. Young Charles Marlow deals with many challenging situations, including distant parents and bullying. Elliott Smith captures his character so well that I believe he is Charles. Sarah Shahi clearly connects with her character, Allison. She shines a light on Allison's real desires and personality, despite her actions telling a different story. Most importantly, the storyline is relatable and written strong enough to give actors the opportunity to shine. Each character has its own subplot so that every character is important. Learning about the secondary characters' backgrounds and deepest desires through the subplots adds to the film. The sets are another standout part. I particularly liked the set in the art studio which features beautiful artwork. The camerawork is also outstanding, using a variety of angles to draw you into the scenes. I love the creativity of the film jumping back and forth in time, allowing us to see the characters when they were younger, which helps us understand their current point of view. Yet that gets confusing at times. Sometimes it's difficult to know if I'm watching something from the past, present or future and that makes the storyline hard to follow. However, once you get accustomed to those time changes, which includes change of wardrobe and period-specific sets, the film is easier to follow.

The message of this film is to treat people with disabilities with the same respect as anyone else. There are other important themes that are shown such as being kind and living life to its fullest. Language Arts does address heavy topics, contains some profanity and is a sad story in many ways.

I give Language Arts 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Language Arts now on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Vudu.

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Language Arts is a powerful film about a difficult subject that draws you in as the characters develop and face challenges. It's emotional to see some of the challenges the characters face. It is even more difficult to see how children without challenges treat those with them.< p>The storyline follows a student that wants to do a project on how people with limited or no language skills are able to tell their own stories. Her English teacher, who grew up in a flawed family, has an autistic child. During this powerful movie he relives his life, the good and the bad, on a path that will bring him to a much better place.

We are introduced to people who have dementia, are autistic and those who have other challenges. The characters are full and rich. I don't believe the nun, with dementia, would have just been lead to a new room and quickly left there alone. The actor who plays Dana, who went to school with the teacher, delivers a great performance. However, I don't believe he would ever have been left unattended, given how challenged he is. The teacher and Charlie's child, Cody both give believable performances. Although the actors portray the characters well, I don't believe they would be as easily handled as the movie shows. The end of the film pulls everything together very well, particularly for Cody's divorced parents.

Much of the movie is very "beige." The scene where Charlie and his wife visit a doctor is the perfect example. Not only is the office beige, but Charlie and his wife's clothing match the colors of the wall. Cody's room is very "beige." Even the kitchen, where the nuns bake bread, have little color. The end of the film is the only place, for the most part, where there is color that pops. Given how heavy the material is, a little color may help. The way they tie the Palmer method of writing throughout the film is amazing! The costumes are accurate for the time, but again, adding some color might help. The only scene, besides the ending that has color is when Charlie is bartending and his wife is with him in a colorful outfit. How the characters act makes for great visual effects, from the nun making a collage of Cody's work with crunchy noodles and paper. What the characters do very much impacts how you see each one and makes them very believable.

Mrs. Braxton (Jane Ryan) plays a teacher of that time to perfection. The Charles (Elliot Smith) character is incredibly well developed from his dysfunctional and traumatic childhood, due to trauma suffered over the assault of Dana (Lincoln Lambert) and Charles' (Ashley Zukerman mother (not credited) not telling him that Dana survived. Dana gives a stellar performance and we discover he lived and had a rich life, and wrote his mother many letters, which leads right back to the Palmer method of writing.

There is also a point when Charles' mother-in-law sums her daughter up so succinctly it is a true gem of a line, "My daughter, let's hope out lasts the truth, otherwise known as denial. There are some real gems throughout the movie.

The director's skill shows throughout the film. The background music fits in well and is wonderful. The costumes needed some help, as they were very bland. My favorite scene is where Charlie's wife's parents visit to talk about home renovations. It meant a lot to see Charlie visit Dana's mother and finally learn the truth. The movie is well done and ventures into areas few have dared to go. For those who have not been in contact with people with these kinds of challenges, it important they see the full spectrum of humanity. The characters are rich and developed. It is a powerful movie with a great message. Although depressing in many ways, it is an excellent film with a positive message at the end.

The message is that everyone has a voice, although they may show it in different ways!< p>I give Language Arts 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 through 18, plus adults. This is a film that offers many viewers a whole new perspective.


A student project abruptly forces an emotionally stunted high school English teacher to confront his demons--past and present--taking him on a powerful journey of connection and redemption. Based on the novel, starring Ashley Zukerman, Sarah Shahi, Elliott Smith and Lincoln Lambert.
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