Sweet Nothing in My Ear
|Sweet Nothing in My Ear|
|Created by||Stephen Sachs (teleplay)|
|Written by||Stephen Sachs (play)|
|Directed by||Joseph Sargent|
|Theme music composer||Charles Bernstein|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original language(s)||English and American Sign Language|
|Cinematography||Donald M. Morgan|
|Running time||~ 110 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Hallmark Hall of Fame|
|Original release||US: April 20, 2008
AUS: December 7, 2008
|"Sweet Nothing in My Ear"|
|Hallmark Hall of Fame episode|
|Episode no.||Season 57
|Original air date||April 20, 2008|
Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a television movie that debuted on the CBS television network as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on April 20, 2008. The film is directed by Joseph Sargent, and is based on a 1998 play of the same name by Stephen Sachs, who also wrote the teleplay. It stars Jeff Daniels and Marlee Matlin as the parents of a Deaf child, played by Noah Valencia, who struggle with deciding to give their child an implant that will allow him to hear again.
With the film Hallmark Channel and producer-director Joseph Sargent revisited deafness with a universal theme contemplating the relationship of a minority group to society at large, 23 years after their previous film on a similar theme, the Emmy-winning Love Is Never Silent (1985).
Daniels studied American Sign Language before filming, in order to portray the language accurately.
The movie opens on a court case between Dan and Laura Miller (Daniels, Matlin), who have been married for nine years. It is eventually revealed that they are legally separated, and this is a custody hearing for their son, Adam (Valencia). The Millers have always referred to each other as each others' "best friend," but their relationship began to change when Adam lost his hearing at the age of four. At first, his parents accepted and even embraced this change because Laura is deaf herself. When Adam turns eight years old, Dan begins to explore the idea that with a surgical procedure and cochlear implants, his son may be able to hear once again.
The incident that started Dan thinking of it was when Adam was injured because he couldn't hear his father's call of warning nor see his sign language. The ER doctor who stitched Adam's wound mentioned a cochlear implant, and though Dan instantly refused to even consider it, he began to investigate the option on his own. Throughout the movie, other flashbacks show similar situations where hearing would be advantageous in everyday life. On the other side of the coin, other moments show how being deaf helps prevent distraction.
A rift develops and widens between Dan and Laura as they firmly disagree on the question of an implant. Dan's hearing parents favor the surgery because it would help them communicate better with their grandson, as they never learned much sign language, living far away. Laura's deaf parents are strongly opposed, especially her father, a fierce advocate of Deaf Pride and an author on the subject. Soon, the larger issues of Deaf Pride and the overall ethics of cochlear implants become the focus of the argument, as implants are viewed to have a potentially detrimental effect on Deaf culture. Laura's father, Max, says, "The majority always thinks each minority wants to be like them", as he doesn't consider deafness to be a disability. Dan, who feels his father-in-law never accepted him, sees this attitude as deaf prejudice against him and all hearing people, when all Dan wants is to give his son a fuller life and a better future.
Eventually, they separate and the dispute leads to the child custody hearing, with several witnesses testifying for both sides. Despite the case only being about Adam's custody, the lawyers and witnesses can't help but address the pros and cons of cochlear implants. Both Dan and Laura each finally plead with the judge to award custody to them, and the judge adjourns to deliberate over the weekend. Later that day, Dan returns to work but can't concentrate. That night, Laura and Adam both agree they don't "… like Daddy not being here with us,", as he has been living elsewhere during the separation. The next morning, Dan visits Laura, signing how he misses his best friend. Laura, too, admits to wanting her best friend back. While they both have clearly established their standpoint on whether Adam should get the cochlear implant, they agree their son needs both of them, just like they need each other. Dan says he doesn't thnk they need a judge to choose what's best for them. Laura says whatever choices they make, they will make together as a family.
- Marlee Matlin as Laura Miller
- Jeff Daniels as Dan Miller
- Noah Valencia as Adam Miller
- Rosemary Forsyth as Louise MIller
- Sonya Walger as Joanna Tate
- Ed Waterstreet as Max
- Phyllis Frelich as Sally
- David Oyelowo as Leonard Grisham
- Deanne Bray as Dr Walters
- Shoshannah Stern as Valerie Park