How Mulholland Drive helped me understand my son’s autism

Whether he intended it or not, David Lynch’s 2001 surrealist masterpiece offers a glimpse into an unfamiliar world, writes James Moore

Saturday 18 September 2021 13:05
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<p>Naomi Watts and Laura Harring star in a film that ‘speaks to the experience of being autistic’ </p>

Naomi Watts and Laura Harring star in a film that ‘speaks to the experience of being autistic’

Autism and Cinema: An Exploration of Neurodiversity has just got under way at the Barbican, before moving to Depot in Lewes in October and then to Home in Manchester in January, and the natural first response could easily be: “What, there’s something to explore?”

Autism, along with physical disabilities and learning difficulties more generally, is one of Hollywood’s multiple blindspots – but there are chinks of light out there, and with the help of the Centre for Film and Ethics at Queen Mary University of London, the season has found them.

The focus is obviously on representation: films about autism, or autistic people, that feature people with autism.

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