A Boy's Life | Chicago Reader

A Boy's Life

Having set out to make a video about how social services help mentally ill children, documentarian Rory Kennedy (American Hollow, Pandemic: Facing AIDS) was drawn in by the personal story of Robert Oliver, a seven-year-old boy in Eupora, Mississippi, who'd been medicated for depression and ADD after killing several pets. This 2002 release tracks the conflict between Robert's mother, who was raped as a teenager, and his grandmother, a harsh and overbearing woman who took custody of him when he was two. Kennedy's allegiance to the mental health professionals who provided her entree is fairly obvious, and I wasn't wholly persuaded by the video's tidy resolution. But there's no disputing the positive change in Robert recorded over the two years of production, as his mother begins to get her act together. 87 min.

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