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Horse Boy, The (DVD Review)

14 Apr, 2010 By: Billy Gil

Street 4/20/10
Box Office $0.2 million
$29.99 DVD
Not rated.

To call The Horse Boy a documentary would not adequately describe this epic, heart-wrenching and provocative film about a couple searching in remote Mongolia for shamanistic cures for their child’s autism.

Having seen tribal shamans cure various conditions, writer and former horse trainer Rupert Isaacson convinces his wife to travel from Texas to Mongolia, across the country by horse — along with their autistic son, Rowan — in search of healing shamans in order to possibly find relief for their son, who displays such distressing behavior as incontinence and constant tantrums that take a scouring toll on the couple. Rowan’s only reprieve seems to come in the company of animals, particularly horses, who respond serenely to the boy’s nature.

Isaacson’s film with Michael Orion Scott not only is profoundly moving in showing the complex struggles of autism, with input from experts; it is also a fascinating portrayal of remote tribes in Mongolia as well as its stunning landscape. The film pulls you in until you are deeply entrenched with the family, beyond any judgment of their methods for dealing with Rowan. I could see parents becoming outright furious at the notion of two educated adults dragging their autistic child on a dangerous (and perhaps selfish) journey across Mongolia. I found myself floored by their patience and open-mindedness in the desperate hope of improving their child’s life.

“We’re gonna go up a several thousand foot mountain and perform a four-hour ritual with shamans, isn’t that what all families do?” Isaacson says near the film’s outset. I won’t say what comes of their journey, but it shouldn’t be missed.

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