"Mozart and the Whale"
Exciting news for the autism community, as Hollywood is planning a new movie with an autism/Asperger's focus. Jerry and Mary Newport, a married couple who both have Asperger's Syndrome, are the subjects of a full length feature titled "Mozart and the Whale." Jerry will be played by Josh Hartnett who starred in "Pearl Harbor" and "Black Hawk Down" and Radha Mitchell, who appeared in "Phone Booth" and "Neverland" will play his Mary Newport.
Ron Bass, who wrote the script for "Rain Man," penned the original screenplay for the movie. The film is being produced by Millennium Studios and Robert Lawrence Productions. Please go to this site to read more about plans for the film - www.mozartandthewhale.com
Jerry is also the author of "Your Life is Not
a Label" and co-author (with Mary) of "Autism-Asperger's
and Sexuality." Both books are available through
Asperger Publishing Company (AAPC) or Amazon.com
on the ApdateHA/AS/PDD website by clicking through to their
From AHA Advisory Board Member Jerry Newport: I am happy to share that "my" movie, "Mozart and The Whale" begins a gradual USA release in USA theaters on April 14th, starting in Spokane, Washington where it was filmed in 2004. The local autism organization will have a fundraiser prior to the opening.
From Pat: Latest (really nice review) from the Santa Barbara film festival below. We are hoping to make plans to show "Mozart and The Whale" on Long Island and in NYC later in the spring or early summer as it moves across the USA.
Mozart and the Whale
By Sheri Linden
SANTA BARBARA, California (Hollywood Reporter) : Strong performances anchor this low-key romantic drama about two people with Asperger syndrome. Although the narrative loses oomph as it enters increasingly generic territory, screenwriter Ron Bass doesn't sentimentalize his characters as he did in "Rain Man." Radha Mitchell delivers a typically fine performance as the extrovert in the central couple, and Josh Hartnett offers what is by far his best work to date.
A selection of the Santa Barbara film festival, "Mozart & the Whale" is based on the story of Jerry and Mary Newport, who were profiled in a 1995 Los Angeles Times piece and on "60 Minutes" and who will chronicle their relationship in an upcoming book. This fictionalized telling of their romance could carve out a modest box-office niche for the right distributor.
The title refers to the Halloween costumes Isabelle (Mitchell) and Donald (Hartnett) wear on one of their first dates, and there's a nice clarity to the notion that these socially challenged individuals find a measure of belonging on that night, when the rest of the world is acting weird, too. Through character observations like that, and the central couple's shared love of animals, Bass' script makes its dramatic points with pleasing economy, at least in the early going.
Isabelle is the newest addition to a support group for Spokane residents with Asperger syndrome and other forms of autism that is run by Donald, a cabby with an amazing ability to compute numbers. With her uncensored outspokenness and barking laugh, the high-energy beauty shakes things up, igniting the interest of writer Gregory (fine work from John Carroll Lynch). But Isabelle and Donald soon become an item, much to the fascination of the group, whose members' behavioral oddities, intelligence and humor are well captured by the cast.
Isabelle takes the initiative in all aspects of her relationship with the adorably shy Donald, and the actors evoke real tenderness when their characters become lovers, Hartnett conveying Donald's deepening self-acceptance. But the ensuing roller-coaster ride of relationship stops and starts is familiar and far less interesting than the people at its center. Director Petter Naess ("Elling") too often doesn't trust the performances enough, relying on pop songs whose on-the-nose lyrics signal shifts in mood that the actors are perfectly capable of putting across.