Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TV Review: Autism Is Another Thing Families Share

Normally, when you reach the end of a documentary and say to yourself, “I’m not sure which character that film was about,” it’s a bad thing, a sign of unclear writing and poor execution. But in the case of “Dad’s in Heaven With Nixon,” Tuesday night on Showtime, it’s a testament to how rich this bittersweet tale is.
The filmmaker, Tom Murray, sets out to tell the story of his younger brother Christopher, now 50, who suffered oxygen deprivation at birth and was eventually given a diagnosis of autism. That story takes him back to his childhood and the family’s seemingly idyllic life on Long Island — a home on what became some of the most valuable land in the area; summers on the beach — which leads him to explore how that life was shattered.
An old maxim says that God never sends you more than you can handle, but Mr. Murray’s father, Thomas E. Murray II, disproved it. “He just couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that he had a neurologically damaged child,” his wife, Janice Murray, recalls of her husband. “There was absolutely no grip on reality. Absolutely none.”

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