The SomethingAwful forums gathered up a bunch of documentaries online, and the one I bothered watching was The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow, about Temple Grandin. I had heard of her because of HBO biopic, and after watching the above I looked for that on one of those intellectual property infringing sites which thankfully abound on the internet. The first thing to notice in Claire Danes’ performance is how she speaks. It is generally too loud, somewhat childlike and often spoken too quickly and without enough enunciation to be well understood. I didn’t notice anything like that in the documentary featuring the actual Temple Grandin (not to say she sounds normal, but within the normal range of odd). It was the case that Grandin didn’t start speaking until she was four, but the documentary didn’t mention any speech issues after that, nor throughout the biopic does her manner of speaking seem to change much. At the same time I have to acknowledge that it was an effective way of conveying to the audience how different this character is and how difficult adhering to social norms would be. The accentuating of certain sights & sounds to convey her subjective experience was also a very nice touch.
I haven’t actually read Grandin’s autobiography, so those who know more about her than is found in her Wikipedia entry are invited to correct me. I would also be interested in seeing what Grandin herself had to say about the final product. Some other aspects of the HBO film that struck me as more movielike than real were the science teacher from the boarding school, the blind roommate, her first resorting to the squeeze-machine in response to the onset of a panic attack (pictures of her in it show her smiling, though perhaps that was a later use or after it had calmed her down) and the door-motif.