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Ken Harrison is an artist who makes sculptures. One day he is involved in a car accident, and is paralyzed from his neck down. All he can do is talk, and he wants to die. In hospital he make friends with some of the staff, and they support him when he goes to trial to be allowed to die. Written by
Eva Kristin Berntzen <email@example.com>
Sane people can have the desire to die, it's an indisputable fact. In arguing why, "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" tries to balance a dispute so personal, that it seems bound to fail. And yet, it does not! The story features a sculptor who is left paralyzed after a wrecking car accident and ends up in a most undesirable situation. His status renders him incapable of being the person he once was and found in the impossibility to reconcile his former self with his current condition, Ken Harrison decides to die.
His quest is, most obviously, a difficult one. The doctors do not support him in his decision and in this debate - doctor::patient - it is where the film conjures the most solid arguments in its plea. Going beyond the usual ethical components of this choice, the film manages to assert a very personal position to the main protagonist, which therefore makes the whole experience one of anguish on a very personal level. And this is where it makes its point: there is no universal justification for death and the world has no right to interfere in the sphere of anyone's consciousness. Perhaps it is at times overly dramatic and it treats the subject with tantalizing care, but in the end, I felt the film balanced all the facts concerned in a convincing and compelling way, vividly portraying the painful demise of a strong mind in face of the cruelty of destiny. It might seem to take a stance on every man's right to choose his fate, but in the matter at hand (whether death by will is right or wrong) it emits no absolute messages.
Beyond everything, Richard Dreyfuss sustains an authentic feeling of intellectual pain, in his convincing performance. And it is only in pain and suffering that we can look into ourselves to understand how much we are willing to bear in this world and what makes us be. Suicide I do not believe a solution, but then again, I am on the other side of the river, where things seem filthy green, rather than nothing at all. We are so alone in death and pain, that nobody can truly claim to understand us.
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