LOVING WALTER is one of those films that sticks in your gut long after the credits are finished. Originally made in 1981 as a film for British television (actually there are two films here, loosely tied) and written by David Cook, LOVING WALTER relates the story of a mentally challenged child born to parents who consider him "one of God's mistakes" and keep him isolated as a child tending pigeons with his silent but caring father and his enduringly patient but highly resentful mother. His father dies and Walter is left with his pity-party mother until she, too, dies, though her corpse is kept by the needy Walter in a room with his pigeons. His parents' death having 'released him into the world', Walter soon finds a new home in a mental institution managed by, among others, Jim Broadbent (in a terrifically bizarre performance) and finds his purpose in tending other less able patients. He stays there from age 21 to age 40 and this is where the film changes. Apparently the original film was released at this point. This DVD form of the film continues with the admission of women to the mental institution, among them a fragile but forceful Sarah Miles who convinces Walter to leave with her and live in the filthy sector of London. Love ensues, wanes, and Walter survives, perhaps not in a winning way but he does find some solace at film's close. This second half of the film is poorly edited with what seem like breaks for commercials. But this is the only negative aspect to the flow of the total film. Sir Ian McKellan imbues Walter with total credibility, creating an unforgettable character about whom we care deeply. His entire body is 'challenged' and his few lines of dialogue are all the more poignant because of this subtle, subdued performance. Sarah Miles once again proves that she is a consummate actress as the quite mad, sexaholic misfit. Top honors, however, go to Stephen Frears (whose past films include 'My Beautiful Launderette', Dirty Pretty Things', 'The Grifters', 'Dangerous Liaisons', and 'Prick Up Your Ears') for his extraordinary sensitivity in directing actors and extras alike in a factual, tough to observe, heartrending (without the excess of saccharine) picture of the life in a mental institution. The cinematography is gritty and apropos and the slight music score is additive rather than distracting. A truly remarkable film.