My Left Foot

My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown, also known simply as My Left Foot, is a 1989 Irish-British biographical comedy-drama film co-written and directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Ray McAnally, Hugh O'Conor and Fiona Shaw. It tells the story of Christy Brown (Day-Lewis), an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. Brown grew up in a poor working-class family, and became a writer and artist. Also starring in the film are 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 Brown.[6]

My Left Foot
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim Sheridan
Produced byNoel Pearson
Screenplay by
Based onMy Left Foot
by Christy Brown
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyJack Conroy
Edited byJ. Patrick Duffner
Distributed byPalace Pictures
Release date
  • 24 February 1989 (1989-02-24)
Running time
103 minutes[2]
Box office$14.7 million[5]

The film was well received by critics and audiences, with Day-Lewis and Fricker's performances being widely acclaimed. Day-Lewis won the Academy Award and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, while Brenda Fricker won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film was additionally nominated for three other Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan, Best Director for Sheridan and the Academy Award for Best Picture. An Irish and British co-production, the British Film Institute ranked My Left Foot the 53rd greatest British film of the 20th century.[7]


In 1932, Christy Brown is born into a family of 15. Doctors discover he has severe cerebral palsy. Christy is unable to walk or talk. He is loved and supported by his family, especially his mother. One day, Christy's mother trips down the stairs while in labor and Christy was the only person home to see it. He was able to alert some neighbors and summon them over to help. Christy's father, who never believed Christy would amount to anything, starts to become proud after witnessing him use his left foot, the only body part he can fully control, to write the word "mother" on the floor with a piece of 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. Later, his father loses his job and the family faces exceptionally difficult hardships, so Christy devises a plan to help his brothers steal coal to their mother's dismay. 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 is then introduced to 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 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. Cole returns and they resume their friendship. Later on, Christy attends a charity event where he meets his handler, a nurse named Mary Carr. She begins reading his autobiography. He asks Mary to go out with him and they then happily leave the fete together.



Day-Lewis 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.[8] Day-Lewis said of the scene: 'I knew it couldn't be done...and that intrigued me."[8] 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.[9]


Critical response

My Left Foot received very positive reviews. Critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four and stated, "My Left Foot is a great film for many reasons, but the most important is that it gives us such a complete picture of this man's life. It is not an inspirational movie, although it inspires. It is not a sympathetic movie, although it inspires sympathy. It is the story of a stubborn, difficult, blessed and gifted man who was dealt a bad hand, who played it brilliantly, and who left us some good books, some good paintings and the example of his courage. It must not have been easy".[10] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 97% of 35 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.9/10. The site's critical consensus states, "No doubt most will come to My Left Foot for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance, but the movie's refusal to go downbeat will keep it in viewer minds afterwards."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 97 out of 100 based on 17 critic reviews.[12]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards[13] 26 March 1990 Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Best Supporting Actress Brenda Fricker Won
Best Picture Noel Pearson, producer Nominated
Best Director Jim Sheridan Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Shane Connaughton & Jim Sheridan Nominated
BAFTA Film Awards[14] 1990 Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Best Supporting Actor Ray McAnally Won
Best Film My Left Foot Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Shane Connaughton & Jim Sheridan Nominated
Best Makeup Ken Jennings Nominated
European Film Awards[15] 25 November 1989 Young European Film of the Year My Left Foot Nominated
Best Director Jim Sheridan Nominated
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[16] 20 January 1990 Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Brenda Fricker Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards[17] 24 March 1990 Best Foreign Film My Left Foot Won
Los Angeles Film Critics[18] 16 January 1990 Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Best Supporting Actress Brenda Fricker Won
National Society of Film Critics[17] 8 January 1990 Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
New York Film Critics[19] 14 January 1990 Best Film My Left Foot Won
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Young Artist Awards[20] March 1990 Best Young Actor Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Hugh O’Conor Won
Best Motion Picture: Drama My Left Foot Nominated

See also


  1. Jackson, Laura. Daniel Day-Lewis: The Biography. John Blake, 2005. p. 137.
  2. "MY LEFT FOOT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  3. "My Left Foot (1989)". BFI.
  4. "Hollywood: 15 low-budget movies that did well at the Box Office". Gulf Daily News. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  5. "My Left Foot (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  6. The Irish Filmography 1896-1996; Red Mountain Press; 1996. Page 43
  7. British Film Institute - Top 100 British Films (1999). Retrieved August 27, 2016
  8. Hirschberg, Lynn. "Daniel Day-Lewis: the perfectionist". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  9. Jordan, Anthony J. Daniel Day Lewis, Gentleman, A Memoir. pp. 1–22.
  10. Ebert, Roger (2 February 1990). "My Left Foot Movie Review & Film Summary (1990)". Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  11. "My Left Foot – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  12. "My Left Foot Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  13. "The 62nd Academy Awards (1990) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  14. "BAFTA Awards Search – My Left Foot". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  15. "European Film Awards". European Film Academy. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  16. "Daniel Day-Lewis". Film4. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  17. "My Left Foot (1989)". NY Times. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  18. "15TH ANNUAL LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION AWARDS". lafca. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  19. "Critics' Award to 'Drugstore Cowboy'". NY Times. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  20. "11th Annual Youth In Film Awards". Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
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