One Family's Touching Journey
By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
On the surface, Rupert Isaacson and his wife, Kristin Neff, look like the epitome of the hip, bohemian parents they set out to be when Kristin gave birth to son Rowan in 2001. When Rowan was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, they approached the disorder with enlightened equanimity, handling his inconsolable tantrums and intransigent toilet habits with preternatural calm. Still, as he grew older, the difficulties of grappling with the cognitive and behavioral implications of his autism overwhelmed even the very Zen Isaacsons.
Then, when Rowan evinced a strong connection to horses, Rupert -- a journalist who had covered shamanistic healing rituals in the Kalahari desert -- hit on an idea as potentially brilliant as it was potentially disastrous: Why not take Rowan to Mongolia, the very birthplace of horseback riding and home to the world's most potent shamans, to see if he could be cured?
"The Horse Boy" is a documentary of the Isaacson family's journey, encompassing Mongolia's breathtaking steppes and grasslands, interviews with such luminaries as Temple Grandin and Simon Baron-Cohen and finally Rowan himself, who proves to be an infuriating, enchanting, enigmatic protagonist. Not even the most hardened scientific minds will be immune to the film's extraordinary story, or to the quiet charms of a supporting character named Betsy, who emerges as the film's true heroine. "The Horse Boy" is a lovely, amazing, wonderfully provocative film.
The Horse Boy Unrated, 93 minutes Contains nothing objectionable. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.