This riveting independent film, one of the year's most underrated, is a highly charged, thoughtful combination of family drama, suspense thriller, and medical conundrum. Architect Ruth Matthews (Kathleen Turner), with her adolescent son Michael (Shiloh Strong) and six-year-old daughter
Sally (Asha Menina), attempts to begin her life anew after losing her husband in an accident. But Sally is succumbing to autism, slowly retreating into herself and refusing to engage with the outer world.
Child psychologist Dr. Jake Beerlander (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives to help, but Ruth resists his medical "interference"; she wants to believe that Sally, now off in her own world of total silence, is only dealing with her grief and will communicate when she's ready. In the attic, Sally builds a
towering structure of playing cards and snapshots, which Ruth photographs as proof for Jake that Sally, fiercely imaginative, is attempting to communicate in her own way. Jake and his assistant Adelle (Esther Rolle) disagree and warn Ruth that they must act quickly with conventional therapy before
it's too late to bring Sally back to normal life.
HOUSE OF CARDS is the first feature film for writer-director Michael Lessac, whose background includes an illustrious career in the theatre (founding New York's Colonnades Theater Lab and writing and directing plays for several other companies) before going to Hollywood in 1985, where he
directed many TV sitcoms. Lessac has stated that his point of reference for the film, which he had been writing for some eight years, was Truffaut's THE WILD CHILD (1969). HOUSE OF CARDS tackles, in a different context, that film's probing of how very special, often artistic gifts of certain
psychologically damaged children may be tragically lost, sacrificed in an attempt to bring the child into "normal" functioning life.
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: This riveting independent film, one of the year's most underrated, is a highly charged, thoughtful combination of family drama, suspense thriller, and medical conundrum. Architect Ruth Matthews (Kathleen Turner), with her adolescent son Michael (Shiloh Str… (more)