KARLA: Remember we went to downtown LA to see the movie premiere? Now here’s another screening in Hollywood. They have open captions for the Deaf community! Whoo hoo! Now we came here to find out what deaf people feel and think about the film. You ready?
GAYLE: I enjoyed it very much. Yes, it was slow, but it was pretty much like what it was from the book, from picture to picture. I liked the movie very much. Enjoyed it. They showed 1927 and then 1977-- they went back and forth between time, then their paths cross in the end. I enjoyed it. He was complaining about it because deaf people must sign in it, I know. The role requires a special person, a well-known person, Julianne Moore, she is needed for this. I do get that. What can I say?
DOUG: I kept an open mind. I was a bit restless. I tried to connect to the film. Then the ending went fast. I got a little lost because it was slow at first then moved fast. The acting wasn’t perfect. They should have used a deaf actor for certain parts. The grandmother role had a bit of monotonous facial expressions, it was a deaf character. It was interesting.
GAYLE: I do want to add-- in the 1927 parts, there was no sound, which gave hearing people the idea what was like to be deaf from that hearing culture, the hearing world. It was super quiet. Maybe a few sound effects here and there. In 1977, there was sound and voices. It was captioned. Captions helped. I’m happy that we got open captions.
NEIL: I enjoyed the movie throughout until the part where sign language was starting to appear. I was like, “No… that’s not…” I see facial expressions, body language from deaf people, and whatever was shown on screen didn’t represent that. It didn’t… You know, most people grow up using same types of facial expressions, same tics. It was different from the film.
MODELA: The film was very interesting. It had good picture, and had sign language. And the writing, and the communication was combined. One of my disappointments, was the one woman actress, Julianne, the character she played, the older one, first hearing, then she played a deaf character. She became deaf and signed. This should not happen. This role should be recast with an authentic deaf actor, since there’s signing. It should be a deaf. Why not use Marlee Matlin? Or other people who have talent? Use them, it’d fit the facial expressions. I don’t understand why Julianne played two different roles. She took advantage of both roles. In my opinion, I disagree with this. But otherwise, the writing, the signing, was pretty good. But the ending of this story was very interesting. I understand it was in the book, too.
DICKIE: I’m happy that there’s a Deaf woman lead, the little one. It’s great for her. I am disappointed that she had no signing lines. The entire time she was just writing on paper. Which is, in itself a truth from life of Deaf people, but… when came the time for sign language to appear in the screen, it was a hearing person who played a Deaf character signing in ASL. Seeing that, it just felt like.. Great. (sarcastic) The cycle of hearing actors playing Deaf characters still keeps happening. Still. So I’m really disappointed about that.
NEIL: I think it’s great that we have a Deaf actress who’s playing a Deaf character for most of the film, but when Julianne took over that character as the older version, it sent out a mixed message. It started out authentically, then it ended up not being authentic. Today is a time that we focus on authenticity; real feelings, real--- really, this-- it just loses that, it loses it’s magic. I think Wonderstruck lost it’s magic in the ending. Lost it.
KARLA: I don’t know if you knew this, but the director of the film did cast six deaf actors to play hearing roles, so how do you feel about that?
MODELA: If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t have taken the role, playing a hearing person. No.
MODELA: Because I want to show myself as a Deaf person, I want to show that I can sign too. That’s proof. If I played a hearing role, Hollywood would feel it’s justified for hearing to take on Deaf roles. This cycle would keep going. I don’t want this to happen.
NEIL: I recommend that you read the book. It’s a great statement of what culture looks like, for sure. But when the movie was made… it just didn’t have the same experience. But we have to take under consideration of the deaf actors in the movie, which was challenging. Especially because I work with C.A.D. Media, I did talk with Amazon, talked with a few people, and tried to change that scene. In the end, it fell on deaf ears. Pun intended.
KARLA: Their answers are interesting, right? If you have a chance to watch “Wonderstruck,” be sure to share with us what you think! Your thoughts matter to us, too!