1980's Ordinary People is a powerful debut from Director Robert Redford, featuring an all star cast as a family with everything on the surface and many troubles underneath.
Mary Tyler Moore shattered her perfect TV woman image as Beth Jarrett, the emotionally cutoff wife of her husband played by Donald Sutherland and son Conrad, perfectly played by Timothy Hutton.
Conrad's older brother died in a tragic boating accident and the guilt of that accident has driven Conrad to a suicide attempt.
The film opens as he returns home and to high school, pretending to be fine but struggling to live every day.
Conrad starts visiting therapist Dr. Berger, perfectly played by Judd Hirsch. I was only familiar with Hirsch from "Taxi" and had no idea what a terrific actor he is until I saw in this film.
As Dr. Berger begins to bring emotions and feelings out of Conrad, his father is thrilled and his mother is horrified as she has spent her life hiding any sign of human emotion.
This was a brave role for Moore, who plays a completely unlikeable character as far removed from Laura Petrie as you can get. She's terrific and is matched by Sutherland as the rock of the Jarrett family. Look for Elizabeth McGovern is an early big role as Hutton's girlfriend.
Redford proved he was the real deal as a director his first time out. Ordinary People is anything but ordinary and earns a strong A.