directed by Jonathan Karsh
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover Susan Tom more or less adopts special-needs children; this is her story, and it's both gripping and moving. A woman described by her mother as trying to fill her own "loneliness," Tom has taken on the children who are too much for other people--there are kids missing limbs, who have been horribly burned, who have cancer and cystic fibrosis, and one hyperactive boy with a terrible mean streak. The film takes stock of a year with Tom and her family, and considers what it takes to care for children who demand so much attention. Tom comes off as heroic in her efforts: she rarely has time for herself, and she seems to have infinite wells of love for the kids who take so much out of her (one heartbreaking scene has her scrolling through Internet personal ads, knowing that there's no one who would take her and her huge family). It's not an entirely flattering portrait: While it comes down squarely on the side of Tom being good, it notes her emotional need to live as she does and records a nasty confrontation between her and her one "normal" child who feels neglected. But as the film considers what it takes to do the things she does, it shows how often people are allowed to slip through the cracks of care. One comes out of the film both amazed at Tom's abilities and angry that so many people would abandon their children for being "too much."