Maybe I’m a little hungry, but to me, finding a good movie on Netflix is like finding the juicy peach hearts among all the other loser gummies. Fucking jackpot!
Autism In Love is, you guessed it, a documentary about people in love or looking for love, who also happen to be autistic (to varying degrees). Director Matt Fuller does an impressive job of teasing out a narrative that rarely gets seen in mainstream media: they’re on the spectrum, but they have needs and desires too.
We’ve tended to categorize autistic people as being emotionless, but that’s not true at all. They struggle to recognize and express feelings, but they’re there, and the more I learn about autism, the more I see similarities instead of differences. Autism in Love follows 4 individuals who I have to thank for their openness and bravery. It’s not easy for any of us to expose our vulnerabilities, and I can only hope they know how moved their audience has been.
Lenny is a young man in his 20s who, not unlike his peers, is struggling to find himself. He’d like to find a girlfriend, preferably a very independent one, but he feels strongly that they’re all out of his league. There’s anguish here. Lenny will break your goddamned heart. Lenny is a smart guy in his way, and he’s aware. He’s aware of how much his differences have set him apart and all he wants is to be “normal.”
Stephen is a middle-aged gentleman who’s been married for several years to a woman with her own disabilities. Though not a classic love story, you can see how much love and care there is between them. His wife knows how to get him talking, and how to recognize his affection. It’s incredibly endearing.
Lindsey & Dave are a young couple who are high-functioning professionals navigating a romantic relationship that’s just a little bit harder when both partners are autistic. But when you watch them together, it’s embarrassing, but you start to think that they’ve got it right, because in recognizing their weaknesses, they’re actually working harder at overcoming them than a lot of the rest of us. Their communication is open and honest, even if it’s a bit of a trial. Everyone should be so lucky.
What Fuller puts together is a piece that’s stereotype-shattering. It’s personal and intimate; you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. And you’ll come away with a better understanding of what it means to be autistic, and what it means to search for love no matter who you are or where you fall on a spectrum.