Starring: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, Judd Hirsch
Release Date: Sept. 19, 1980
Running Time: 124 min
Commentary Ordinary People is a very moving drama regarding a family which becomes torn following the accidental death of one of their sons. Mary Tyler Moore does an extraordinary job as a bitter mother, as does Timothy Hutton as her guilt-ridden son and Judd Hirsch as his psychiatrist. Having dealt with depression myself and having had years of therapy, I found I could relate to Hutton's character quite well.
Conrad Jarrett (Hutton) is deeply troubled following a boating accident with his brother in which he survived but his brother didn't. He feels terribly guilt-ridden and ends up getting hospitalized for slashing his wrists, following which he receives therapy from Dr. Tyrone C. Berger (Hirsch). Conrad has a very tough time holding his family together following his accident. His mother Beth (Moore) tries to bury her feelings by acting like nothing happened and ends up becoming very hostile and indifferent to Conrad. Eventually Dr. Berger helps Conrad deal with his guilt.
Cultural Significance Ordinary People won the following Academy Awards:
Best Director (Robert Redford)
Best Supporting Actor (Timothy Hutton)
Many feel that Hutton should've won the award for Best Actor, since he played the major role in the film. Also many thought that Mary Tyler Moore should've won the award for Best Actress and that perhaps she didn't because her role was so far-removed from her much more upbeat and positive role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Ordinary People is one of few movies which paints psychiatry in a positive light. Some feel Hirsch's portrayal of Dr. Berger was too good to be true.