Film Reviews

The Big Decisions

In the age of social media it is a strange paradox that as we socialize more with people online, we use fewer of the physical senses that maybe some could only dream of having.

The Finn family (pictured below) is one such example. A family who lack one sense: hearing.

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Photo Credit – John Finn, The Big Decisions courtesy of Neath Films and Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

The big decision in question involves documenting the family debate to give their daughter Louise a cochlear implant, a device that will allow her to hear despite her severe lack of hearing. John puts his family on the screen to highlight the complexities and the effects it might or might not have on the three year old.

Some could easily describe it as ‘human tourism’ but it doesn’t give justice to the sensitivity with which John Finn treats the subject that is so close to his heart. The film is firmly rooted in what the older family members have experienced and this shapes the debate. The whole idea of implants is a thornier issue than those outside this world might believe it is. The family acts as a portal into this niche of society, one that people barely know exists.

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The greatest strength is the ability to see past the lack of hearing. Nothing stops them from doing what ‘normal’ families do. The only real difference is that the way they interact with each other is through BSL (British sign language) rather than speech. They are a normal family and it calls into question what really can be classified as a ‘disability’ because these folks are not struggling with anything that other families don’t struggle with already.

However when it comes to visual style it can tire for those struggling to get interested in the debate, with shots of the parents discussing around a table or bench becoming too common. The debate itself might not be potent enough for those firebrands in the audience who want to see real tears shed by the issue, for them there might be a lack of something.

If anything The Big Decisions is touching tribute of what it means to be human.