My yoga teacher likes to say, as she eyeballs my unlimber limbs, straining to contort in comical ways, that "it's the journey, not the destination," and those wise words might also serve as the message of this moving documentary film about one family's experience with autism.
The Horse Boy - which won the Audience Award at SXSW '09, under the more sonorous title Over the Hills and Far Away - documents the day-to-day struggles of an Elgin, Texas, family to cope with their 5-year-old son Rowan's autism.
Director Scott skillfully interweaves frankly shattering scenes of Rowan in endless tantrum, unable to articulate what ails him, with talking-head interviews that attempt to explain what's going on with Rowan - in as much as medical science, still largely baffled by autism, is capable of doing. Experts provide backgrounding that is crucial to understanding what comes next, which is the daring plan of father Rupert Isaacson, a travel writer and alternative medicine enthusiast, to seek healing all the way on the other side of the planet for Rowan, for whom a trip to the grocery store can be a nightmare.
Encouraged by Rowan's affinity for horses, Isaacson travels with his family to Mongolia, where horses are revered and shamanism is state religion; there, they plan to journey into Inner Mongolia to meet with eight shamans, then horseback up a 12,000-foot ascent to the Russian border, where a mystical reindeer herd congregates.
The Horse Boy is a staggering document of the lengths parents will go to for the sake of their child.
- Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle