Presented at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival “The Reason I Jump” is a feature-length documentary, directed by Jerry Rothwell. The film is an adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name by Naoki Higashida. Written in 2005 when he was 13 years old, the book addresses how people with autism see the world, experience and communicate.
The film was very well received by the critics and has accumulated 7 wins and 13 nominations in various festivals around the world, from Vancouver to Athens, including the United States and England.
Naoki Higashida’s book, “The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice from the silence of Autism” is a biographical book about the life and thoughts of a nonverbal autistic person from Japan. Released in 2007 in Japan, the book will be translated into English by David Mitchell (who we will see in the film), and published in 2013, a language in which it will also be very successful.
The film is based on quotations from Naoki Higashida, but dives more precisely into the story of five nonverbal autistic young people, who come from different countries and cultures. From India to England, we will also pass by the United States or Sierra Leone.
In an attempt to present to us the vision of the world of a nonverbal autistic child, Jerry Rothwell relies on light effects, sound mixes but especially on the superb photography proposed by Ruben Woodin Dechamps. Through this, the film tries to make us live a sensory and visual experience. In “The Reason I Jump”, cinema is used to try to expose an unknown and misunderstood world to the spectator.
The main idea that emanates from this film, which is also found in the book, is that despite their difficulties in communicating and conversing, autistic people still have a lot to say and to share. The presence of some sequences too much focused on an “emotional” aspect and way too intimate is still regrettable, does not bring anything interesting to the film and may even bring moments of platitude.
But apart from that, the film, through the daily life of these five people, draws us very different portraits, whether by their behavior, their culture or simply by their vision of the world. Each of these people has succeeded in developing their own way of communicating with people and with the world.
“The Reason I Jump” remains an interesting attempt from a cinematographic point of view, but is partly doomed to failure. Indeed, according to David Mitchell, “it’s impossible for a neuro-typical mind to fully understand a neuro-atypical mind”.
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