"The Hollywood Reporter"
April 16-18, 1999
This telefilm will have you rooting for a fighter who is institutionalized against her will. It smoothly tracks the ragged, emotional adventure of Ruth Ellison (Samantha Mathis), who struggles with multiple sclerosis and must spend her life in a wheelchair. In this fine, emotional and involving telefilm, Ruth rages against her affliction and turns her anger against almost everyone - even those who would help her.
It's a compelling and essentially charming tale even if, at times, it delves too much into oversentimentality. Jon Turtle is exec producer and Sandy Stern is producer of the Jon Turtle/Single Cell Pictures production.
Ruth is forced into an institution by relatives who can't tolerate her negative attitude. Despite her resistance, she is forced to interact with her fellow residents. Under the pressure of caring for these people Ruth begins to change.
She meets developmentally challenged roommate Cass (Marlee Matlin), literature-quoting quadriplegic Cal (Peter Sarsgaard) and blind Lenny (Jonathan Silverman). There are also brain damaged ex-singer Eleanor (Natalie Cole) and Lenny's mother (Estelle Parsons). All are excellent.
A clever, heartwarming script by Jane Shepard gives fine dialogue to the characters. A worthy directing job by Lynne Littman brings in elements such as wonderful "snapshots" - we're shown artfully placed shots of "Freak City" residents who pose for the camera as onlookers and tell stories in their own right.