Children of a Lesser God

Children of a Lesser God is a 1986 American romantic drama film directed by Randa Haines and written by Hesper Anderson and Mark Medoff. An adaptation of Medoff's Tony Award–winning 1979 stage play of the same name, the film stars Marlee Matlin (in an Oscar-winning performance) and William Hurt as employees at a school for the deaf: a deaf custodian and a hearing speech teacher, whose conflicting ideologies on speech and deafness create tension and discord in their developing romantic relationship.


An energetic new teacher, James Leeds (William Hurt), arrives at a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in New England. Involved in his students' interests, he soon sees a troubled young deaf woman working as a janitor yelling at a cook in sign language. The woman, Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin), a former top student, is now a social outcast at the school. Most of the staff have given up on her, but James begins to try to talk with her, at first with little success.