Ordinary People
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Robert Redford's directorial debut ended up the 1980 Oscar winner for Best Picture. It is a simple but painfully emotional story of the disintegration of a "perfect" family. Teenager Conrad (Timothy Hutton) lives under a cloud of guilt after his brother drowns after their boat capsizes in Lake Michigan. Despite intensive therapy sessions with his psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch), Conrad can't shake the belief that he should have died instead of his brother; nor do his preoccupied parents (Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore) offer much in the way of solace. The boy is brought… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"What Redford accomplishes is to provide an excellent portrait of how well families can hide their inner turmoil from the prying eyes of outsiders."
‑ James Berardinelli, ReelViews
"The film looks austere and serious, rather as if it had been shot inside a Frigidaire, and the oppressiveness of the images tends to strangle laughter, even at the most absurd excesses of Alvin Sargent's script."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Under Redford's direction, even the smallest scenes practically leap off the screen."
‑ David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
"A masterpiece."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"Only reaching Chekhovian heights in its dreams."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"An austere and delicate examination of the ways in which a likable family falters under pressure and struggles, with ambiguous results, to renew itself."
‑ Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine
"An actors' movie and an advert for therapy, extremely bitter, but handsomely directed in its elegant pretentiousness."
‑ , Time Out
"This is still an auspicious directorial debut that stands as one of the first films to deal intelligently with the role of therapy."
‑ Sue Heal, Radio Times
"Better than forever being dismissed with a huffy "I can't believe that beat Raging Bull"."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Fully deserving of its many accolades."
‑ , Empire Magazine
"A powerfully intimate domestic drama."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"An intelligent, perceptive, and deeply moving film."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"It is an extraordinary achievement in an unforgettable film."
‑ , People Magazine
"Story of emotional honesty is best for older kids."
‑ Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
"For an Oscar-winner it's unusually bleak but the power is very carefully controlled."
‑ , Film4
More reviews for Ordinary People on Rotten Tomatoes

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