Following the death of their son, Beth and Calvin struggle to put the pieces back together. Their other boy Conrad, racked with misplaced guilt, tries to commit suicide and is in therapy. Beth had always prefered his brother and cannot offer Conrad the support her needs. Calvin struggles desperately to hold the family together.
This superior family-in-crisis drama scooped Oscars for first-time director Robert Redford, Alvin Sargent's screenplay, 19-year-old Timothy Hutton's performance and, to top it off, Best Picture.
In an affluent suburb of Chicago, these Ordinary People are well-heeled WASPs whose spectacular neuroses and awful family dynamics are laid bare when the accidental death of one son leaves the younger a suicidal, self-loathing wreck.
This is thoughtful and beautifully observed work, from the social backdrop and the tell-me-what-you're-feeling analysis sessions to the painful performances including Mary Tyler Moore playing against type as the chillingly repressed mother.
Fully deserving of its many accolades.