Monica & David
‘Monica and David’ (2009) is documentary by Alexandra Codina , focusing on the life of...you guessed it, Monica & David. The documentary explores sexuality & companionship in the context of people with disabilities, and in this particular scenario, it’s Down Syndrome.
Down’s Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of a third copy of Chromosome 21 (instead of a pair of 2). This results in the individual having characteristic facial features (for example, a flatter head &/or nose, abnormally large tongue, etc.), delays in physical development and usually mild to moderate intellectual disability. Up until the 1960’s, the average life-expectancy of individuals with Down’s was 20, however, due to advancements in research and specially designed training programs, individuals not only have an average life expectancy of 60 years, they also have an opportunity to lead normal, well-adjusted lives.
During the course of the film, we get a glimpse into their past and the events that led them to one another. We learn about how they met, got engaged, their childhood and how they both were abandoned by their respective fathers.
But unlike countless other films, the main focus here, is not their disorder, but the couple’s wedding and their life post marriage. In saying that, it also does not shy away from showcasing the reality of how the society perceives children with developmental disabilities. Even the hospital suggests putting David up for adoption, a suggestion his mother was not willing to accept.
Monica & David attempt to lead a life, that is as close to ‘normal’ as possible. They move into a new house (with Monica’s parents), where they get an entire wing to themselves to attain a level of independence. They even go out & try to get jobs, helping them feel more self sufficient. They understand the concept of marriage and intimacy well, maybe even better than most; and even banter about sex. They are able to comprehend that marriage requires an equal level of give & take, that it requires one to make compromises. They are willing to be there for one another and help each other and take care of their partner, when it’s necessary.
The documentary is able to show that in spite of developmental difficulties, they are able to feel & express love, intimacy and even sexuality, like anyone else would. It shows the struggles of parents’ in managing children with Down’s Syndrome, and the constant concern they live with on how their children would go on without them & how the world will treat them.
The reason we recommend this, is because, this in its true essence, is a love story and it sees Monica & David as Monica & David, and not their disability. It gives individuals without disabilities a perspective as well as an opportunity to find common ground, to be able to relate to them.