Under the Radar: Listen To Your Heart (2010)


How. Did. We. Overlook This. Movie?

First of all, one of my friends who sent me an email about this movie which she rented from Netflix. She told me that this movie is not captioned and I was puzzled and thought maybe it was Alan Arkin’s movie, “Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, but I was wrong. It was a virtually unknown independent movie that was released one year ago. I told her that she needs to contact the production and distribution companies about captions.

Today, I was slumbering during my lazy Saturday afternoon flipping my tv remote and I saw the title, “Listen to Your Heart” on my cable. I clicked for description of this movie and it was the one which my friend was talking about. I decided to see this movie, and sure enough, it was captioned on the Lifetime Channel.

During the movie, I cringed throughout the movie. I was astonished that how could this movie had gone ‘under the radar’ among the Deaf Community? I grabbed my iPad2 and did some online research. Not even one deaf blogger or deaf-related forum discussing about this movie! We are usually vigilant for any deaf-related movies or television shows by making sure they are authentic, but not this one! I discovered that this movie was first released in October 2010, and it won a lot of awards from film festivals!

The storyline of this movie was basically:

It’s love at first sight when Danny (Kent Moran) meets Ariana (Alexia Rasmussen), a wealthy hearing-impaired girl from Greenwich, CT who tragically cannot hear the music she inspires him to write. Ariana is torn between hanging onto the shelter her controlling mother (Cybill Shepherd) provides and fighting for a love that, if just given the chance, might just change her life. When tragedy strikes, determined that nothing can keep them apart, they must trust in the power of their love, and together discover just how important it is to “listen to your heart.”

I checked Hulu.com for this movie, and it is not captioned. You can check IMdB here, and there is the Facebook page dedicating to this movie too.

How. Did. We. Overlook. This. Movie?

Alexia Rasmussen, a hearing actress for the role as Ariana, or “Sam” as her nickname. The character, Sam became deaf when she was young due to meningitis. Her mother (Cybill Shepherd) enrolled her in an oral school. Sam does not know any sign language and she does not use her speech to communicate. She has an uncanny lipreading skills which enables her to follow conversation.

Strike One!

That is the major misconception here. Only 30% of information can be understood from lipreading. Selecting a hearing actress, that is a big NO-NO! There was a reason why Rasmussen was chosen to act as Sam, and I found the answer on the Facebook page.

Listen to Your Heart
Hey Andrea, we chose a hearing actress for several reasons. The main being that she had to be able to speak and “hear” by the end of the movie. I know it only seems like the last few minutes, but she is supposed to be hearing for a while. The movie also used to be longer and had different twists that required a hearing actress, and we thought that this role was a good challenge for an actress to show her abilities.

OMG! Oh. My. God. Plenty of Deaf actress out there who can do this role. Read this interview with Kent Moran on this website here. Enough to make my blood boil.

In this film, Sam’s mom is a domineering mother and she overprotects her daughter. Sam’s mother orders meals for her own daughter. Sam does not know how to drive.

Strike Two!

Wow, a great way to educate the public that Deaf people cannot order their own meals and we are unable to drive. We are totally dependent on parents. Thank you very much, dear producers/writers.

Danny, an struggling waiter met Sam for the first time at the restaurant and he fell in love at the first sight. He tried to give her his phone number. Two weeks later, Sam showed up at the restaurant. Danny learned that Sam is deaf. They exchanged e-mails. Danny told Sam that his mother’s best friend is deaf, and he knows some fingerspelling. He fingerspelled his name. Love blossomed. Danny and Sam are signing. They are seeing each other.

Mommy was unhappy. She tries to interfere their relationship by sending emails under pretenses and blocks Danny on Facebook. She even blocked snail mails written by Danny. She basically controls Sam. She even arranged a date for Sam with an arrogant guy from another wealthy family. That guy ended up sexually assaulting Sam. No communication, except Mommy blames her for ’embarrassing’ her.

Thank you so much for enlightenment.

Sam and her best friend, Nicole tried to trick Mommy Dearest that they can go into the city to hang out, so that they can meet Danny. Mommy figured that out and snatched Sam from this opportunity.

There are so many more examples on this movie that I cannot even stand writing about this. Danny is dying of brain cancer, and Sam wants to get a cochlear implant. Oh, at the end of this movie, Sam is able to hear and speak as well. Even worse, Sam enrolled in a prestigious music school to follow her heart that she can pursue her musical career. Wow, that is a miracle! Deaf people can hear!

Producers, thank you so much for enlightenment. Congratulations, you have set us back several years by stereotyping us, as isolated, lonely, dependent and helpless deaf people who needs Mommy’s protection and getting cochlear implant to hear and speak again. Miracle, indeed.

How. Did. We. Overlook. This. Damned. Movie?

Boo, hiss, raspberries and jeers!

Strike THREE! You’re OUT!”

Amy Cohen Efron

66 Responses to “Under the Radar: Listen To Your Heart (2010)”

  1. J Says:

    I’m deaf, with a cochlear implant. Terrible movie on every level. They should have used a deaf actress. She might have helped make the details accurate, and the depiction of deaf women as something other than passive victims in need of hearing people to save them. Nauseating.

  2. Neil Says:

    I enjoyed it. It was a good story. I’ve met deaf people living very productive lives. Some deaf people ARE over protected by their families. Some deaf people ARE NOT given the opportunities they should. You may feel personally hurt or angry, but it was a good movie and for those of us who can hear, it opened our eyes and our hearts (more) to the deaf community, regardless of who was used as an actress. Thank goodness life is getting better for people with disabilities. Everyone makes good points. But if you take a step back, it was a good story and you know what, I am reading what YOU wrote because of it. So keep writing and doing everything else you do! Thanks! – Neil

  3. Michelle Says:

    I can hear. I liked the movie. It doesn’t make me think deaf people are weak, sheltered, or stupid. It’s a MOVIE. Give us a little credit.

  4. Katrina Says:

    Here’s my thoughts,
    I am a non-dead person and watching this movie which I felt definitely had moments of impact and sensitivity, in no way influenced or altered my view on deaf people. Non- deaf people can also be born into wealthy controlling families who make decisions for and speak for them in different ways and be challenged to chose between their own and their families wishes. I often find it interesting how everyone is supposed to be so politically correct these days towards any sort of minority group whilst at the same time, those same minority groups demand to be treated as equals. Maybe you could look at this as a film which was more about a girl having to chose between love and her own hearts desires and those of her family, a girl who just happened to be deaf, than a story about deaf people. Maybe the deafness ‘issue’ was the sideline and not the starring role.

  5. Amy Says:

    Okay…. non-dead.. maybe you meant a hearing person.

  6. Lily Says:

    Dear Internet, both non-hearing and hearing:

    Here’s my take on this film, as a hearing person with even a passing exposure to deaf culture: while the film had some sweet sentiments- particularly its dedication- it had a facile opportunity to illuminate deaf culture a little in the mainstream media, and instead frustratingly cemented unfortunate common misconceptions.
    It failed to differentiate early on Ariana’s capabilities as an intelligent human being, and the limits imposed upon her by her mother’s psychopathology. Accurately representing deaf persons as fully capable from the beginning- rather than eventually through the plot- would have mitigated some of the film’s other insults.
    I was also deeply troubled that the film made no deliberation over Ariana’s decision to get a cochlear implant. Yes, she had been a hearing child and memories of her father’s music were important to her, especially for the plot; but instead of easily confirming the backstory of her decision, the film let it appear that deaf people are somehow “broken” and all want to be “fixed”.
    It’s particularly unfortunate that a film trying to seem so sensitive about emotional issues- even in an overacted way- should so glaringly dismiss a culture it’s capitalizing on.

    I thank this forum for its discussion of this film. While I enjoyed parts of the film’s humanity, I was rather disgruntled overall and curious as to the deaf community’s reaction. The variety of responses here has been pleasantly enlightening and validating!

  7. A Says:

    This movie made me cringe… a lot. Ugh.

  8. Annie Says:

    Just watched this movie. A lot of misinformation about the deaf world and how they seem to focus on hearing sounds at the end. Is that really important to a deaf person? It made me cringe!!! And the fact she lip read the guy! I couldn’t lip read him at all! gee!

    Overall it was a cute, sappy and very sad movie that tried to touch people’s hearts.

  9. Ranger Says:

    Hello All,
    Reading these comments I’m just wondering where all of the anger against this movie comes from? I’m surprise that many people with hearing loss have this anger? Of course it’s not “real life”, it’s just a movie. If it helps some people have a little bit more understanding about the lives of people with a hearing loss then that would be good thing.
    It serves no point to take offense at every little thing in life…try dealing with Celiac disease, narcolepsy, Lyme’s disease. The world can’t know everything about every disease or condition that exists….negativity and anger is counter productive to healing, life and love.

    I enjoyed the movie, it was not a documentary…but a love story about 2 people. Please lighten up all and heal your anger.


  10. Oscar Siguenza Says:

    I really liked this movie. my brother is deaf with some cerebral palsy. I didn’t mind a bit about it. I’m also a bit of a musician. I give this movie two thumbs up. And I also think Sam was quite cute…and well a grat match to Danny. I could only bear to read very little about the “deaf community” on this website bashing the movie and its characters. I happen to have enjoyed the movie and felt inspired thru its music, message to love dearly, strive for your dreams, and well, enjoy music, and oh yeah, earn a decent living.
    So I hope i’m not alone. And I’m sorry to hear that the “real deaf Community” felt left out and let down by this movie…perhaps it was directed to the general public, deaf or not…and…Dear Amy Cohen Efron…sorry this movie was not to you standards. Perhaps you should film your own and shown them how its done since Saying It Is Always Easier Thank DOING IT! thank you! Oscar the Spanish Michigander

  11. Chuck Says:

    This movie does not claim deaf people can’t order their own food, drive, or any of that. The plot is that her mother is controlling of her and not allowing her to do things. It has nothing to do with her being deaf. It is a great movie. Don’t judge it so harshly. I am sure that the deaf have actually been portrayed badly in other films, this is not one of them.

  12. Ed Adams Says:

    Agree they could have used a deaf person for this role. That said, the point of the relationship between Sam and her mother is not that deaf people are helpless or stupid. The point is that some parents of deaf children (or hearing children, for that matter) are over-protective and controlling. Helen Keller’s father was such a person until Ann Sullivan finally convinced him that Helen could learn to communicate, even though she was both deaf and blind.
    As a matter of fact, Sam in this movie proves to be extremely intelligent, once she is away from her mother’s control.
    People who grow up in the type of environment that Sam had, whether hearing impaired or not, have a difficult time breaking away, even as an adult. I have known a couple of real-life examples. They were terrified of being away from the controlling parent. Their parents should have been arrested for child abuse. By the way, one of them was a girl who suffered a severe brain injury as a teen. The other was not impaired in any way, except socially which was a result of the environment in which he was raised.

  13. MusicNotesRoom.com Says:

    The best element is, you won’t even be able to tell the difference between your beats and
    beats made in real recording studios. A lot
    of engineering producers start out as either
    mixing engineers or assistant engineers to record label producers.
    What I notice about the kids who have difficulty keeping a beat is that they usually did
    not attend baby music classes, not mine or any music classes.

  14. SK Says:

    Personally, I enjoyed the movie because it was very emotional.
    I didn’t take it as the producers interionally trying to mislead
    people or stereotype deaf people. I think that too many people
    are way too overly sensitive and let every little thing upset
    them. Just take as it was a good movie and not every movie
    Is completely factul, that why they are called movies. I would
    give this movie a five star rating because although deaf people
    can drive, order their own food and badically do most anything
    that hearing person can, there are parents like the mom in the
    whom do actuslly act this controlling and insensitive. So I say
    stop knocking the movie with all of your strikes and look as it
    was intended to be and that is a good heart touching movie,
    nothing more and nothing less.

  15. David Says:

    I just watched this movie for the very first time. I am not deaf. I was trying to find information on the actress and ended up here. Sorry, what a bunch of losers. My brother died of a Glio brain tumor seven years ago. Their depiction of that didn’t match my experience EXACTLY in the movie, so should I stomp and pout about that? It’s entertainment – a love story, not a documentary. I loved the movie and it had nothing to do with it being a great depiction of people with a hearing disability. If I was looking at wanting to learn more about the deaf I wouldn’t rent this movie. This blog tells me much more about the “real deaf” than the movie ever did. The movie may not be an “accurate representation” of what YOU (collectively) want the world to see, but unfortunately, this blog probably is. So sad….

  16. P. Swarz Says:

    This movie s NOT condicending to anyone except to normal hearing People. I have a serious hearing problem and as you surely know, normal hearing folks just don’t get the difficulty. The last 25 or 30 years of my 76 have been with very poor hearing. Everybody should watch this if just because it is a great movie. It also provides a clear picture for all to understand. I have become pretty cynical, please don’t join me!,

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