When we size someone up, we tend to lean on presumption. A grown-up who collects toys is an odd duck. A person who openly enjoys kinky sex is a freak. A person living with a disability needs our pity. The problem is that all of these presumptions (and others) are cheats and shortcuts that allow us not to get to know someone. That’s a shame, because if we did get to know someone, we might get a much better understanding of their world view…which might, in-turn, affect our own.

THE BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS is the story of Michelle Smith, a legally blind and Autistic girl in her early 20’s. Michelle recently graduated from Perkins School for the Blind, and finds herself in a mild state of flux with what comes next. For any of us, the end of academia can feel like a harsh adjustment, but for Michelle it feels especially tough since she is back living at home, growing curious about the world, but not in a place to experience it to the fullest extent.

On the one hand, Michelle wants to go to Los Angeles to chase an internship offer. Exactly what the offer entails, we can’t be certain of, but what’s clear is that it speaks to Michelle’s heart and that dearly wants to grasp the opportunity. Like her family, we find ourselves concerned, but politely supportive. On the other hand, Michelle happens to come-of-age sexually during this movie, finding a kinship, curiosity, and contentment in the world of BDSM and ageplay. Here again, we find ourselves concerned (especially when her first boyfriend comes calling), but politely supportive.

What does one say? What should one say?

As we watch Michelle’s story play out, we feel what her teachers, counsellors, and parents feel. We feel that she’s biting off more than she can chew, In short, we worry that “…she can’t…”. However, in watching her go about her life, and listening to her, we begin to understand that whether or not “she can’t” isn’t up to us. Her wants, wishes, joys, and challenges are strictly her own, and for us to “want to help” when it isn’t requested is an insult.

It’s like she says when trying to explain her sexual fetishes; there’s a world of difference between being controlled and giving over control.

The truth of the matter is that it’s easier to assign labels, make presumptions, and keep things in neat little boxes. It makes most of us feel better and go through our lives with less resistance. Most of us, that is, except for those being assigned the labels and presumptions while being kept in a neat little box. THE BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS serves as a warm reminder that everyone deserves the chance to chase their own desires and ambitions…unusual or improbable as they may be. It’s up to the rest of us to facilitate those desires and ambitions, difficult as that may seem.


THE BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS has finished its Hot Docs engagement. Keep an eye on its official website for future showings.