Monday, June 14, 2010

For The Life of Me: Film Review

2010 seems to be the year of the adoption film, both documentary and mainstream. Adopted: a Film, Adopted by Barbara Lee, Resilience, and Living on the FAULT LINE: Where race and family meet all document transnational and transracial issues and were reviewed here.

Mother and Child, staring Annette Bening is one of the best fictionalized accounts of adoption out of hollywood.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the NJ premiere of For the Life of Me by Jean Strauss.

Jean wrote, directed, edited, and also narrates this important and heart-felt documentary. It opens with the observation that unless you are adopted you cannot imagine what it feels like to not know your true, original identity.  Fifty-five minutes later viewers have a far better understanding, a true look inside an emotional roller coaster journey of adult adoptees longing for a shred of their past with a far more poignant need to know than NBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?'which followed movie stars as they traced their roots for idle curiosity. You feel their urgency and root for them as they race the clock to beat the grim reaper.

At one point, about midway into the film, the comparison is made to the fact that dogs pedigree records are better kept than that of adopted persons.  Jean's voice-over at that point felt to me like she was our very own crusading Michael Moore, tearing down bureaucratic walls and showing the sheer absurdity of it all,  as she says: "So I went to a dog show to see why this is."

Like Moore, as he followed people seeking in desperate need of surgeries and medications in Sicko, Strauss follows two middle aged men as they chase the clock to track down aging birth parents and try to look into the eyes of a single person to whom they blood related.

Also featured is Pam Hasagawa, who received the respect and thanks she deserves for putting the past thirty years of her life selflessly, into working to get access for NJ adoptees.

Adoptive parents will no doubt whine - as they did about "Who do you think you are?" and "Mother and Child" - because it eliminates them totally, except for photographs and kind words of love.  Perhaps it might wake some of them up to the reality that an adoptee's search for his roots is about him and no one else. It is personal. It is private. It does not involve them.  It is not about his adoptive parents or his relationship to them. 


Also brought into the film only tangentially via photos are the natural mothers sought out. Yet Isabella speaks loudly and clearly from her grave through her dear friends and her poetry of the weighty secret she took to her gave... 

Strauss, an adoptee and daughter of an adoptee, has given us a tremendous contribution to the argument to provide access for adult adoptees nationwide.

The film is now readily and affordably available for your personal viewing - or perhaps at your church or other group showing!  It will explain graphically and on a sensory level what you have likely been trying to get across to family and friends all of your life. Click the link below to purchase.

FOR THE LIFE OF ME – Now Available!

FTLOMCOVER2 Strauss's long-awaited feature film about the impact of secrets in closed adoptions in America...
DVD $19.95 plus shipping

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