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Here is a humane and undeniably moving documentary about Amber Davies, a girl with Down’s syndrome, filmed over four years as she enters and moves up the school system. An hour in length, and released to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day, it examines her progress through three linked but separate perspectives, bringing together moments of beauty and joy as well as the harsher realities that not even childhood can escape.
Olivia, Amber’s neurotypical twin, is a constant presence, showing great maturity, helping her sister with daily tasks and taking time to understand her. We also hear directly from her via voiceover; she doesn’t hide how she feels when she believes her sister has been unjustly treated, and articulates her hopes that Amber will be able to stay in the same school as her.
The second perspective belongs to Ian Davies, Amber’s father and the film’s director. A largely off-screen presence, Davies is clearly a loving and encouraging father; it would have been interesting to hear directly from him. But the repeated scenes in which Davies visits his daughter’s play-shop are a nice touch, establishing atmosphere where we can observe Amber’s development for ourselves.
Amber’s perspective, of course, takes centre stage, a valuable corrective to the current mire of neurodivergent-as-plot-device in mainstream cinema. The film reminds us that Amber is a fully realised individual, with interests and feelings to explore: she wall-climbs with her father, bakes with her sister and demonstrates an emotional complexity that most media would not appreciate.
As the film progresses, we can only root for Amber, happy for her advances and feeling her pain when things stall. A labour of love in the most accurate sense.
Source: The Guardian
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