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Documentary studies the ups and downs of mismatched families


Jack and Bob Allnutt, in Rachel Dretzin's documentary, "Far from the Tree," based on Andrew Solomon's book.

By Colin Covert

When there is an imperfect fit, who’s accountable, the round peg or the square hole? Both? Neither? In the sensitive documentary Far From the Tree, the question concerns seven families and children dealing with an unexpected mismatch — dwarfism, Down syndrome, sexual identity, autism or more.

… Capably filmed by director Rachel Dretzin, this look at a diverse group of people is emotionally powerful without feeling manipulative. It simply observes the love, effort, loyalty and sadness family members experience together or alone. Some parents seem fully committed to helping their offspring have the fullest, most inclusive lives possible. Others candidly admit their feelings of distress at bearing a child that led them to a life far outside their expectations.

As Solomon notes, over his decade of reporting he’s not met one parent who said, “I’d like to turn my child in for a better model.” In a year with an impressive crop of documentaries, this earns a place near the top.

(To read the full review, please visit the Star Tribune.)