Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival 2016 Review: “Wizard Mode” (2016) ★★★★


Autism is not a disability but a great opportunity to unlock a certain part of your brain that would not be accessible otherwise. This condition may limit you from socializing at a certain level, but gives you something more than you could have gained from a regular conversation. The story of Robert Gagno once again proves our society needs more people like him to show the beauty of independence, determination and necessity to have the courage to fight against your own mind to become more like “everyone” else.

Robert Cagno has a minor level of autism. Despite disliking interacting with people in the beginning, it’s his love for pinball that allows him to broaden his horizon, communicate more with people and seek for an opportunity to become an active participant in building his own life. As you watch the him throughout, you will simply be amazed seeing his ability to learn quickly, being competitive, and beat everyone at a tournament when he has a bit of extra attention as he plays. Yes, it’s the wizard mode he wants to reach in this game, without even knowing that it’s his mind which is a wizard mode that’s all what he needed to notice.

It’s touching to see how Robert’s family supports him all the way from failure to success, and back to failure. It’s them who encourage him not to stop his fight and continue what he does. As the story unfolds, you find out more about Gagno’s progress, and how he learns to become disciplined in order to learn to live with autism. His ability to talk and express himself, indeed, makes him one of the luckiest young man with autism, as many more, as you know, don’t have the ability even to deliver a short speech.

Perhaps the most sensitive part of the film begins when Robert learns adulthood and comes to the realization of the importance of being more independent, as one day his parents may not be around to support him as much as they do now. The scene where he learns to drive a car, or travelling alone to participate at the pinball tournament is fascinating. It’s certainly admirable and brave of him to give the space to his parents, while he continues to pursue his goal.

WIZARD MODE, directed by Nathan Drillot and Jeff Petry, explores the life of one individual whose every step will inspire you to do great things. His ability to become self-sufficient is something that many people without autism don’t know how to become. It’s a well narrated documentary film that makes you to watch someone’s life with endless fascination and pride. It’s not only an important film to watch, but also good to see for any parent who has a child with autism. WIZARD MODE may not be an essential guide for you, but it surely brings up a great point that you as a parent can do single handedly once you learn how to get the best out of autism, which as I mentioned in the beginning, is a great opportunity to do unimaginable things.

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