Synopsis: In rural Maine, a bold and magnetic 20-year-old woman named Michelle Smith lives with her mother Julie. Michelle is quirky and charming, legally blind and diagnosed on the autism spectrum, with big dreams and varied passions. Searching for connection, Michelle explores love and empowerment outside the limits of “normal” through a provocative sex-positive community. Michelle’s joyful story of self-discovery celebrates outcasts everywhere.
Emmy Award-winning producer of “Friends”, Kevin S. Bright met Michelle while teaching a filmmaking class at Perkins School for the Blind in Boston years ago, the school Helen Keller went to. The director, Garrett Zevgetis also volunteered his time at the school. Independently, both were completely struck by her authenticity and exuberance, and have been involved with Michelle and her story ever since. While filming, they discovered the startling lack of opportunities available for all people to fully engage in our society, and the need to fix the fear and misunderstanding people have towards those considered “other”.
When we all graduated from high school, we had big dreams. Perhaps, moving away from home and starting a career, finally being able to go out when we wanted, eat what we wanted, buy whichever shoes she wanted from shoe hero, and party until dawn. Michelle is much like any other young woman. She’s trying to find her way in the world by following her passions without judgement or outside pressure. The only difference being, Michelle is legally blind and on the autism spectrum. Much like myself, she’s a total fangirl. She likes the dry wit of Daria, attends convention, yearns for acceptance and respect in her niche groups. She acts appropriately for her age. The film follows her for several years post graduating. Through her love life, job searches, and striving for her independence. All seems pretty “normal” until you propose her challenges to those who function without them. Her Mom suggest she attend her brother’s basketball game and at first her protest seems nothing more than a bored and annoyed sister, unwilling to cheer on a sibling just because their interests don’t align. But, once you listen to her reasoning, as a viewer, will gain further insight into the life of someone forced to live differently. It’s a perfect turning point in the film. You finally get to walk in her shoes and mind for a brief moment. Although, director Garrett Zevgetis, does and excellent job early on with a blurred focus lens to help explain how Michelle figuratively sees the world around her. It is incredibly effective. Above all, this is the story of a young woman whose almost constant stream of self-esteem and positivity shines like a beacon of hope for anyone that has ever felt left out or chastised for being slightly different. I wish I could be as outwardly upbeat every single day and now perhaps I’ll take a second breath and thank my lucky stars I have the life I do. Michelle asks us to love who we are as much as she loves who she is. She asks us to “unlearn normal”. In a year where so much has happened to us as a country, maybe it’s time to take her advice.
BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS opens in NYC on Friday, Dec 2nd, and in LA Dec 9th. Check out the trailer below:
RT: 90 Minutes