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In “Far From the Tree,” parents cope with children utterly different from themselves

Sundance Selects and Participant Media present Far from the Tree: A Film by Rachel Dretzin. Opening in theaters and VOD July 20, 2018.

By John Anderson

Did Joseph and Mary love Jesus because he was the Son of God? Or in spite of it? Was the Holy Family principally holy? Or principally family? Jesus was adored, of course. But he was also loved. And nothing in the Gospels suggests he was an easy kid.

Neither are the key characters in Far From the Tree, Rachel Dretzin’s documentary adaptation of Andrew Solomon’s much-honored book about how parents contend with, and continue to love, children who are utterly different from themselves. So different, in some cases—for reasons physical, mental, sexual or even criminal—they call into question who and what that a family is.

Solomon, whose book was subtitled “Parents, Children and the Search for Identity,” used the term “exceptional” to refer to children with “horizontal identities” that arise from the “recessive genes, random mutations, prenatal influences or values and preferences that a child does not share with his progenitors.” Nothing so clinical is addressed directly in Dretzin’s film, which is more focused on the people than on their psychology. … And because it is essentially about love, it becomes a thoroughly moving journey, one piloted by Solomon himself.

(To read the full review, please visit America.)