My Flesh and Blood

"Very Good"

My Flesh and Blood Review


Next time your boss is being a jerk, take a look at My Flesh and Blood.

This documentary follows the life and times of Susan Tom, a self-described "fat, interesting" woman in Fairfield, California, who's made it her life's work to adopt (legally or informally) various children with special needs.

And we're not talking about a little hyperactivity -- we're talking kids with mental retardation, cystic fybrosis, and skin-wasting diseases that cause their bodies to slowly disintegrate.

And we're not talking about two or three kids. Tom has thirteen of these kids running around her house.

How does she cope with the madness this creates -- and believe me, director Jonathan Karsh captures the madness in all its horrors -- on a daily basis? Karsh doesn't really get into it -- he's more focused on documenting life in the Tom family. We visit the hospital (regularly), but spend most of our time in Tom's sprawling suburban home, which is filled to the rafters with screaming and bickering... and some of truly horrifying shots of these kids' medical conditions. I'm a borderline hypochondriac as it is; My Flesh and Blood had my mind reeling with the possibilities of some awful diseases I didn't even know existed.

Ultimately, though, Karsh focuses on the relationship between Susan and Joe, a young boy with CF who's also got some kind of mental problem that makes him belligerent to the point of abuse. He screams at Susan, calling her a slut. She simply takes it and turns the other cheek. How can a human being cope with such a savage attack, then sit by his bedside during a CF episode? It's simple: Susan is a saint.

Karsh knows this, of course, and Tom is never portrayed as anything but a latter-day Mother Teresa. This ultimately makes for a less interesting film than it ought to be; there's something here, but Karsh never quites get to the real core of the story, because he never ferrets out just what makes Susan Tom tick. I, for one, am dying to know.



My Flesh and Blood

Facts and Figures

Run time: 83 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th January 2003

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 8.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jonathan Karsh

Starring: as Herself, as Himself, as Herself

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