My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown is a 1989 Irish biographical drama film co-written and directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Ray McAnally and Fiona Shaw. It tells the story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. Christy Brown grew up in a poor, working-class family, and became a writer and artist. The film also stars Julie Hale, Alison Whelan, Kirsten Sheridan, Declan Croghan, Eanna MacLiam, Marie Conmee, and Cyril Cusack. It is a partly fictional biography, adapted by Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan from the book My Left Foot by Christy Brown.
The film was well received by critics and audiences alike, with Daniel Day-Lewis being commended for his performance as a man with cerebral palsy. Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, respectively, and the film was additionally nominated for three other awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan, Best Director for Sheridan and the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The film opens with Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), who has cerebral palsy, being taken to a charity event, where he meets his handler, a nurse named Mary Carr. She begins reading his autobiography. Christy could not walk or talk, but still received love and support from his family, especially his mother. One day when he was still a young boy, Christy was the only one home to see his mother fall down a flight of stairs while in labor, and he was able to alert some neighbors and summon them over to help. His father, who had never really believed in him, becomes a supporter the day nine- or 10-year-old Christy uses his left foot, the only body part he can fully control, to write the word "mother" on the floor with a piece of yellow chalk.
Consequently, Christy seeks a hobby in painting. The neighborhood youngsters include him in their activities, like street football. But when he paints a picture and gives it to a girl he likes, she returns it. When his father loses his job and the family faces exceptionally difficult hardships, Christy devises a plan to help his brothers steal coal (to their mother's dismay). His older sister, who was always very nice to him, gets pregnant and must marry and leave home. Christy's mother, who had been gradually gathering some savings in a tin in the fireplace, finally saves enough to buy him a wheelchair.
Christy meets Dr. Eileen Cole, who takes him to her school for cerebral palsy patients and persuades a friend of hers to hold an exhibition of his work. Christy falls in love with Dr. Cole, but when he learns during the dinner that she is engaged to be married, he considers suicide. His mother helps him build a private studio for himself, but soon afterward his father dies of a stroke, and during the wake Christy instigates a brawl. At this point, Christy starts writing his autobiography, My Left Foot. Dr. Cole returns and they resume their friendship. Meanwhile, at the fete, Christy asks Mary Carr to go out with him and they leave the fete together.Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown
Hugh O'Conor as young Christy Brown
Brenda Fricker as Bridget Fagan Brown, Christy's mother
Ray McAnally as Paddy Brown
Fiona Shaw as Dr. Eileen Cole
Kirsten Sheridan as Sharon Brown
Alison Whelan as Sheila Brown
Eanna MacLiam as Benny Brown
Declan Croghan as Tom Brown
Marie Conremme as Sadie Brown
Cyril Cusack as Lord Castlewelland
Phelim Drew as Brian
Eileen Colgan as Nan
Ruth McCabe as Mary Carr
Day-Lewis first became interested in the film when he read the opening scene, which features him, as Brown, using his left foot to place a record on a player and then placing a needle onto it so that it will play. Lewis would later state of the scene "'I knew it couldn't be done...and that intrigued me". Many scenes were filmed through a mirror, as Daniel Day-Lewis could only manipulate his right foot to perform the actions seen in the film. Day-Lewis spent some time preparing for the film at Christy Brown's alma mater in Dublin. He later returned there for a visit, with his Oscar.
Upon its initial release, My Left Foot received positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 97% of 34 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 8.1 out of 10.