Directed by John Clark Starring John Clark Short Film Review by Monica Jowett
Short documentary film I Have Asperger’s: So What? follows John Clark, who also writes, directs and produces, a young man who suffers from the disorder. The autobiographical examination of Clark’s life with the disorder aims to provide more insight and understanding to Asperger’s.
The ‘So What’ in the title is implied to mean that Clark does not let the disorder control his life and quickly establishes the John Clark is an optimistic young man who won’t let anything dictate how he should be living or what he wants to do.
The film takes us through Clark’s life, from a young child to present, sharing certain and important parts of life that were all connected to his life with Asperger’s. He shares memories that have made an impact on his later life, and difficulties he faced growing up, from being diagnosed with the disorder aged five, through periods of bullying in school, finding his footing in university and his short time in the adult world.
I Have Asperger's: So What? can be seen as a stepping stone into the life of someone who has the disorder, or is close to someone who has it, as it highlights the important aspects of its effect. For anyone with little knowledge about it, the short film slowly feeds the viewer information about the problems Clark faced growing up, from social and communication skills to general health.
Within his narrative, Clark frequently touches upon how vital his family was in his upbringing with Asperger’s and that theme of family, whether blood or family of friends, runs throughout, showing the importance of family in his life. Another theme which is prevalent is acceptance. Clark is using his autobiographical documentary to draw focus to Asperger’s and what the disorder actually entails, and hopes the conclusion will be more people accepting and understanding it.
Clark has edited the film to be a montage of home videos and childhood photographs, mixed in with footage of Clark as he is today, using a combination of close-ups and long shots that show the viewer what he is like today. Over all of this, Clark narrates his life, in an informative and reflective tone, adding touches of dry humour to it.
Though the filmmaking is amateur, Clark has clearly created a film about something he is passionate about, and as it ends the viewer is let with more insight and appreciation for Asperger’s and those who have it.