Please stand by (2017)
“Like Spock, for example.
He’s half-human, half-alien.
He has trouble dealing with his emotions.
Where did it say that?
That’s just how he is.”
Although “Please stand by” is a fairly predictable film and unrestrainedly endeavors to strike a sensitive nerve, I’m all for such a type of film. The number of films about individuals with a disability, who try to survive in our society where perfection is the standard nowadays, and who succeed in making great achievements, is endless. “I am Sam“, “Forrest Gump“, “Rain Man“, “The theory of everything“, “Still Alice“, “X + Y” and “Who’s driving Doug“, to name but a few. These are all films where one feels sorry for the main character first. And after a while, you realize that these persons surpass all expectations and amaze themselves about their own abilities. Just like Wendy (Dakota Fanning), who suffers from a severe form of autism so that communicating with her environment is a huge obstacle and her daily life is determined by a strict schedule. Handing in a self-written script for a “Star Trek” episode, however, ensures that this well-ordered and well-defined life is shaken up.
Great acting by Dakota Fanning.
All due respect to Dakota Fanning. The way she played this complex character deserves all praise. She distanced herself from all the possibilities available to portray Wendy with all possible tics and ridiculous rituals. Also, the phenomenon of autism was not unnecessarily enlarged by her. Apart from the compulsive writing down of all kinds of facts in her notebook and the pattern of colorful sweaters she’s wearing on specific days, she seems to function reasonably normal. Not as Freddie Highmore who plays a similar character in “The Good Doctor” with a forced intonation making him sound like a voice computer with incorrectly installed software from Lernout & Hauspie. And yes, I know the spectrum of autism is fairly broad. But I appreciated the modesty with which Dakota Fanning played the person Wendy.
Beam me up, Scottie.
Also Toni “Miss you already” Collette played a not so bad part as Scottie who leads the home where Wendy lives. A patient and passionate person who guides each individual in this center and tries to point these individuals the right way towards a bearable personal life. It wasn’t immediately clear to me whether Scottie was her real name or a kind of a joke because of Wendy’s passion for the television series “Star Trek“. Frankly, I felt that all other characters fulfilled their job in an orderly manner. The fact they came across as plain add-ons is entirely due to the beautiful acting of Dakota Fanning of course. The entire film shows how Wendy’s trust grows and she shifts her own boundaries (even if it’s just crossing a specific street).
An adventurous quest.
“Please stand by” is not primarily about how autists handle themselves and how confusing their view on life is. The subject isn’t really thoroughly explored or explained in this area. I can’t even remember the word autism being pronounced once. Only a brief remark by a devout, old female about her grandson who displays an identical behavior. It’s actually a kind of adventurous quest with the ultimate goal of delivering the film script. And so Wendy needs to follow a path, completely normal for average people, where she meets a lot of people with bad intentions. And each time she’s saved by caring persons. Almost something like Frodo and that damn ring he had to throw in Mount Doom. Also a risky quest full of obstacles and devious creatures. But then without the autism phenomenon.
Someone get that script!
Finally, a big applause for the dog Pete who accompanies Wendy the whole way. They looked like Dorothy and Toto heading for the Wizard of Oz. Fortunately, the duo wasn’t as annoying as Reese Witherspoon and her little pooch in a pink outfit in “Legally Blonde“. And the most surprising moment was when a policeman talked to Wendy in a very remarkable way. But you have to discover that yourself when you watch this engaging and charming film.
P.S. If the script “The many and the few” really exists, I hope it’ll become a real film. The fragments of text that were read, sounded intriguing!