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Gaby: A True Story (1987) is an inspiring film biography of real-life Mexican writer and activist Gabriela Brimmer (1947-2000). Stricken with severe cerebral palsy from birth, Gaby (Rachel Levin [ne Chagall]) struggles to overcome her disability with the help of her devoted nurse Florencia (Norma Aleandro).
The real Gabriela Brimmer lent her full support to Gaby, which took director Luis Mandoki seven years to bring to the big screen. Rachel Levin brings a remarkable sensitivity to her role as Gaby. Having endured a bout herself with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a crippling disorder that left her paralyzed and in the hospital for 80 days, Levin had a unique understanding of the physical and emotional challenges of dealing with a disability.
Liv Ullmann, Robert Loggia, Lawrence Monoson and Tony Goldwyn all lend excellent support in this uplifting story. However, it is Norma Aleandro, one of Argentina's top stage and screen actresses, whose Academy Award nominated performance as Gaby's nurse Florencia that particularly shines. "A superb performance by Norma Aleandro, the Argentine actress who starred in The Official Story (]1985], and has her first English-speaking film role here), is a real standout," said the New York Times review, "and it contributes greatly to the film's verisimilitude. Miss Aleandro is a marvel, conveying both the shyness and the meddlesomeness of someone living in so symbiotic a situation..."
With its message of hope, strength and determination, Gaby: A True Story is certainly inspirational but also decidedly unsentimental. Critic Brian Case of TimeOut wrote "this factually based film does not minimise the unattractiveness of affliction, and the scenes of passion between two handicapped people, Gaby (Levin) and her boyfriend (Monoson), are not easy to watch."
Director: Luis Mandoki
Screenplay: Michael James Love, Martin Salinas; Luis Mandoki (developer)
Cinematography: Lajos Koltai
Music: Maurice Jarre
Film Editing: Garth Craven
Cast: Liv Ullmann (Sari), Norma Aleandro (Florencia), Robert Loggia (Michel), Rachel Levin (Gaby), Lawrence Monoson (Fernando), Robert Beltran (Luis), Beatriz Sheridan (Fernando's mother), Tony Goldwyn (David), Danny De La Paz (Carlos), Paulina Gomez (Gaby, 3 Years Old), Enrique Lucero (Minister of Education), Eduardo Lopez Rojas (Hector Bulle Goyri).
by Andrea Passafiume