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A teenage con artist tricks a desperate mother into hiring her as a live-in companion for her autistic daughter.

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Jack of the Red Hearts movie full length review - Focus on Autism

Before writing this review, I did some research on the film's background to try and get a better understanding of how it was all formulated. I was not aware of director Janet Grillo's critically acclaimed 2011 movie "Fly Away", which also focused on a severely autistic child.

Here in this film, Grillo, who's the mother in real-life of a severely autistic boy, combines with first-time screenwriter Jennifer Deaton, who is the aunt of an autistic child, to produce this movie, which illustrates the deep difficulties and stresses of coping with severe autism and its effects on the family unit.

Certainly not an easy watch, the plot elements stretch credibility to the brink as well, but it does have a solid cast and some strong performances to boot. The charismatic actress AnnaSophia Robb leads the way here as Jack (Jacquelyn), who's a petty criminal with a long rap sheet. In order to prove she's an employed "solid citizen", she lies and manipulates her way into being hired as a companion to 11-year-old Glory, with the goal of eventually getting custody of Jack's younger sister who's now in foster care.

Taylor Richardson gives an outstanding performance as Glory, who's a severely autistic girl, and Famke Janssen and Scott Cohen are excellent, as well, as Glory's loving but frazzled parents, Kay and Mark. You might guess, at this point, that despite Jack having absolutely no therapeutic background they'll eventually be some kind of bond that develops between Glory and Jack.

Overall, I would say this is not the type of film to watch if you're just looking for an escape flick, as it can be quite the intense and uncomfortable drama. However, the movie can offer some very good performances and can also be quite moving, at times, despite its credibility gap.