Tough and Touching
After years of hearing the abuse that her husband dished out on their 13 year old daughter Katie (Tarra Steele), Louise Standon (Kim Darby - Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers), who's sight is failing, with the help of her son, escape and head to social services. In what is called one of the worst cases of abuse in history Louise and her husband are charged with abuse having kept Katie tied to a chair in a room since a small child. But following the discovery which sees her father commit suicide before facing court a team of specialists are put in charge of trying to help Katie who can't speak or has no social graces leading to issues between the caring Sandra (Melissa Errico - Life or Something Like It) and linguistic specialist Judy Bingham (Sean Young - Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) who sees Katie as her meal ticket to make a name for herself.
"Mockingbird Don't Sing" is based on a true story from the 1970s and whilst I cannot speculate as to how accurate this movie is it certainly is both fascinating and shocking. But this is not so much the story of the real child who was abused; I say that as the names have been changed, but the events which followed the battle for in the case of the movie Katie. As such it may not be exactly what people expect yet the story of what happened after is just as shocking.
Anyway the opening of "Mockingbird Don't Sing" doesn't pull any punches as we have the shocking, recreated imaged of Katie who is tied to a chair with leather straps, white and bruised and covered in crusted food. Later on in the movie we also learn as to why her father decided to abuse Katie in such a horrible way and throughout the movie we have disturbing flashbacks which help illustate the abuse she suffered. What we also get to see is the knock on effect of this abuse, the physical state, the inability to talk or even chew food and a whole array of things which to be honest shock.
But what really seems to be the focus is not so much on the story of Katie but on the battle for Katie as whilst we are introduced to various important characters we are introduced to Judy Bingham who sets her mind on using Katie to make a name for herself. As such we see how Judy manipulated things to try and take control of Katie, from making accusations against doctors to trying to block Sandra from helping out. We still see Katie's progress through out this and what happened to her from going to live with a doctor and his family to ending up in foster care but it seems torn between telling just Katie's story and the battle for her.
Whether you take to this story or feel that the real story of Katie is not told one thing is for certain and you will remember the performance of Tarra Steele as Katie. Visually when you see her in the abused state it makes you feel sick but watching her evolve and struggle makes you feel an overwhelming sense of compassion. At the same time the performances from other actors such as Kim Darby as Louise and Sean Young as Judy make you feel such anger as they get the mannerisms and attitudes just right to bring out that emotion in you. Talking of which you will also remember Melissa Errico who is not only attractive as Sandra but also delivers a highly sympathetic characterisation.
What this all boils down to is that "Mockingbird Don't Sing" is a fascinating and moving story but with the focus on what happened after the abuse might not be exactly what people expect.