The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia
Film Review by Kam Williams
Uplifting Documentary Examines Dyslexia from Fresh Perspective
Some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever interviewed have been dyslexic, including film directors like Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects), Joe Wright (Anna Karenina) and Guy Ritchie (Snatch), as well as matinee idol Channing Tatum, who opened up to me about the pain he felt about his grades in school until he found fulfillment in a number of artistic pursuits such as dance, sculpting, painting, photography, and of course, acting.
Each of the aforementioned is a nonconformist with a knack for thinking out of the box, a trait also shared by most of the subjects of The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia. Among the icons who appear in this enlightening documentary directed by James Redford are self-made, billionaire Richard Branson, investment house CEO Charles Schwab, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and A-list attorney David Boies.
After hearing them weigh-in about their supposed affliction, one can’t help but wonder whether dyslexia might actually be considered by some to be a blessing. Boies points out his learning disability’s positive correlation with creativity, which helps explain why so many born with it have blossomed in unique fashion in their respective fields. Branson says dyslexics are trustworthy because “We say what we mean,” while Newsom believes their brains enjoy the advantage of being able to see “The Big Picture.”
Besides the rich and famous, the film focuses on youngsters (in grammar school, junior high, high school and college) and their parents as they share what life is like after a diagnosis of dyslexia. What’s abundantly clear is that each has managed to overcome the combination of low expectations and frustrations with spelling and reading to prove themselves capable of competing with classmates on the highest level, so long as some slight accommodations are made which take their condition into consideration.
An admirably informative and empathetic effort clearing up common misconceptions, essentially explaining that dyslexia is not a character flaw but merely a neurological issue affecting as many as one out of five individuals.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 60 minutes
Distributor: Shadow Creek Films / HBO Films