Alex has Down’s Syndrome. His older brother Nick, now in his mid-20s, cares for him around the clock. Nick has nothing but love for his younger brother but he’s beginning to question whether he is prepared to become his full-time carer. In search for answers to these doubts, the siblings venture out on a globe-trotting adventure that takes them from New York to Vietnam in order to talk to other siblings who’ve had similar experiences. This is Handsome, the latest feature from director Luke White.
Throughout the brothers’ journey, White’s film shines an eye-opening light on how Down’s Syndrome is viewed throughout different communities and the ways in which this has impacted the lives and relationships of the siblings met along the way. No matter where Nick and Alex go or who they speak to, the topics raised create an intimate bond forged from universally shared experiences. These moments are heart-warming and often emotionally charged; they are a testament to the unconditional love between each pair and it’s this core that makes the documentary so endearing to watch.
No attachment is shown to be as strong as the one existing between Nick and Alex. But, as every sibling knows, not every moment is perfect. Arguments and squabbles are a natural part of family life, and the picture doesn’t shy away from the frustrations that come with being a carer either. The low points are uncomfortable (and sometimes even difficult) to watch, but they all work to create an intimate and relatable insight into a part of life that has been overlooked and sometimes even ignored entirely by society for generations.
While Nick may be our narratorial focal point, Alex is the real star of the movie. His personality (like that of the other siblings with Down’s Syndrome) shines through, which makes the adventure he goes on his as much as it is his brother’s. It’s only an unsatisfying conclusion that lets this film down. It’s rushed, offers no reflection on the journey and comes suddenly out of nowhere, stopping proceedings dead in their tracks.
Handsome does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.