Nir Bergman’s Israeli/Italian film Here We Are demonstrates in vivid, emotional detail the difficulty of coping with change – even if one does not have autism.
Noam Imber plays a young man with autism, Uri, who is fond of his dad, Aharon (Shai Ivivi). Aharon is, for lack of a better word, deeply passionate about his son and his well-being. The father-son bond is reminiscent of Bicycle Thieves, and the escapades the duo embark on have a Thelma and Louise feel.
As I have mentioned on this website previously, it is high time for disability narratives to look past the ‘pity’ trope of having a disability. Disabilities are not inherently bad or deserving of a wet handkerchief. Disabilities just are. Despite my suspicion that Imber does not have autism himself, he provides Uri with so much humanity that audiences will immediately be able to relate to the young man’s anxieties, curiosity, and love of Charlie Chaplin.
Uri, as a result of his mother’s (mostly) good intentions, is about to be placed in a home for people with disabilities. Aharon is not having it, because his bond with Uri seems all-encompassing and necessary for both of them to live happy lives. Harmful codependency was explored in the icky Café de Flore, where mom and son died as a result of the mother’s inability to cope with her son growing up and falling in love. The codependency on view here is far less dangerous, but it could still go wrong as a busy street scene attests.
The film forces us to ask questions about how we, as a society, care for those with disabilities. Do we silo those individuals and force their parents to give up everything in order to care for them? (If they are lucky enough to have caring parents.) Or do we emphasize community respite, and allow members of the community to take part in learning how to care for one another? If we no longer have the status as “parent of a child with a disability,” then what are we, at the end of the day?
This film should be commended for asking difficult questions of its characters and of its viewers. Those questions do not have easy, ready-made answers; but, that is far superior than the contrived disability-is-pity stories that were popular only a few years ago.