Past Movie Review: Ordinary People – using ChatGpt


Out of curiosity, I asked the amazing new AI Software ChatGpt to write a 1000-word review of the great movie from 1980, Ordinary People – easily one of the best movies ever produced. Here is the impressive output:

Ordinary People is a 1980 American drama film directed by Robert Redford and written by Alvin Sargent. The film is based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Judith Guest. The story revolves around the Jarrett family, whose lives are turned upside down following the tragic death of their eldest son Buck. The film explores the themes of guilt, grief, and the difficulty of communication within a family.

The Jarretts are a well-to-do family living in the Chicago suburbs. The father, Calvin (Donald Sutherland), is a successful tax attorney, and the mother, Beth (Mary Tyler Moore), is a perfectionist homemaker. Their eldest son, Buck, was the golden boy of the family, a star athlete and beloved by all. However, Buck died in a boating accident, leaving his younger brother Conrad (Timothy Hutton) deeply troubled and guilt-ridden.

The film opens with Conrad’s release from a psychiatric hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for depression and attempted suicide. Conrad is distant and withdrawn, struggling to come to terms with the trauma of his brother’s death. His parents are also struggling to cope, with Beth, in particular, unwilling to acknowledge the extent of Conrad’s pain and refusing to seek therapy for him.

The film’s central conflict arises from the tension between Calvin and Beth’s differing approaches to dealing with grief. Calvin is compassionate and empathetic, wanting to support his son and help him through his pain. Beth, on the other hand, is cold and dismissive, more concerned with maintaining the appearance of a perfect family than addressing the emotional needs of her son. The conflict comes to a head in a scene where Calvin confronts Beth about her emotional distance and lack of support for their son.

What makes Ordinary People such a powerful film is its exploration of the complexity of human emotions. The characters are flawed and often frustrating, but they are also deeply human and relatable. Conrad’s struggles with guilt and depression are portrayed with sensitivity and nuance, and Timothy Hutton’s performance is raw and emotionally charged. Mary Tyler Moore is equally impressive as Beth, conveying both the fragility and the stubbornness of a woman struggling to hold on to her carefully constructed fa├žade.

The film’s themes of communication and the difficulty of expressing emotions are also particularly resonant. The Jarretts are a family that struggles to communicate honestly with each other, with Calvin and Beth’s marriage strained by years of unspoken resentment and emotional distance. Conrad’s attempts to open up to his parents are often met with dismissiveness or discomfort, and the family’s inability to address their pain head-on only serves to deepen their wounds.

The film’s cinematography is also worth noting, with Redford employing a minimalist style that emphasizes the emotional weight of each scene. The camera often lingers on characters’ faces, allowing the audience to see the pain and turmoil beneath their exteriors. The film’s use of music is similarly effective, with a haunting score by Marvin Hamlisch adding to the film’s emotional intensity.

One of the most poignant moments in the film comes towards the end when Conrad finally confronts his mother about her emotional distance and the impact it has had on their family. In this scene, we see both the depth of Conrad’s pain and the possibility for healing that comes from honest communication. It’s a powerful moment that encapsulates the film’s central message: that healing requires honesty, vulnerability, and a willingness to confront difficult emotions.

Overall, Ordinary People is a beautifully crafted film that explores the complexities of grief, guilt, and the importance of communication in a family. The film’s themes are timeless and universal, and its exploration of the emotional landscape of a family in crisis is both moving and thought-provoking.