|Reviewed by: Linda
|September 23, 1998
Birch is a beautiful new film that will be enjoyed by people of all
ages. Suggested by the John Irving novel entitled A Prayer for
Owen Meany, the story focuses on the remarkable friendship between
two 12 year-old boys — Simon and Joe. Each child's life holds a special
challenge. For Joe it is a wish to know the identity of his father.
For Simon, it is a wish to uncover his destiny. Recorded in the history
of Gravehill Memorial Hospital as the smallest baby ever, Simon's mere
survival was proclaimed a "miracle" by his doctors. Despite little
parental attention or support, Simon maintains a strong belief that God
created him for a unique purpose and he is anxious to discover it.
John Irving gave
his blessing to this film project despite the fact that Mark Steven Johnson's
screenplay does not strictly adhere to the author's original work.
His approval isn't surprising. Although the film focuses on just one year
in the life of Simon and Joe, it is a pivotal period which first-time director
Johnson captured with poignant artistry. Ian Michael Smith and Joseph
Mazzello turn in exceptional performances as Simon and Joe, respectively.
Ashley Judd and Oliver Platt are simply wonderful in their supporting roles.
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