Estranged since their father's first stroke some 17 years earlier, Lee and Bessie lead separate lives in separate states. Lee's son, Hank, finds himself committed to a mental institution after setting fire to his mother's house. His younger brother, Charlie, seems unfazed by his brother's eccentricities or his mother's seeming disinterest. When Lee comes to the asylum to spring Hank for a week in Florida so that he can be tested as a possible bone marrow donor for Bessie, Hank is incredulous. "I didn't even know you had a sister," he says. "Remember, every Christmas, when I used to say 'Well, looks like Aunt Bessie didn't send us a card again this year?'" "Oh yeah," Hank says. Meanwhile, Marvin, the two women's bedridden father, has "been dying for the past twenty years." "He's doing it real slow so I don't miss anything," Bessie tells Dr. Wally. In Bessie's regular doctor's absence, it has fallen to Dr. Wally to inform Bessie that she has leukemia and will die without a bone marrow ... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <email@example.com>
Hume Cronyn's final appearance in a theatrical film. See more »
The position of Hank's arm with potato chip changes between shots. See more »
Uh, Janine, I wonder if you could tell me how long I might have to wait, because I left Aunt Ruth at home in charge of dad, and...
You'll have to see Doctor Wally, because Doctor Serrot is on vacation.
[finishes typing "I quit" letter]
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The producers wish to thank ... the staff and guests of Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, Orlando Florida, ... the residents and staff of The Florida Manor Nursing Home ... See more »
It's such a wonderful story, not at all as dreary as one would expect. The late Scott McPherson injected so much humor and heart into this film, it's hard not to just go along with it. Diane Keaton got the Oscar nomination, but Meryl Streep's character drives the film, as she works her way back into a family she turned her back on so she could have a life of her own. She was right to do so, as her sister (Keaton) has become consumed with caregiving for her father and aunt, taking absolutely no time out for herself. The film also features a nice departure for Robert De Niro from his typically heavy roles. That alone is worth seeing, and fans of his typical performances should be forced to watch this.
This quiet film may not have enough action for some, but it is far better than most films dealing with serious illness. The journey these sisters begin is something that has been explored in countless TV movies (think Lifetime), but what separates it is the humor and the character development that makes the viewer wish he/she could stay and watch the family long after the film ends. The film also benefits from the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, who gives an unlikely nuanced performance as the older son who develops some character and helps his flighty mother grow along with him. The great thing about his presence in the film is that younger viewers (mostly female, probably) will be more likely to see this movie and get something out of it in the process.
Finally, a word about Gwen Verdon and Hume Cronyn. Their contributions to this film are immeasurable. And as already mentioned, it's great that younger viewers can watch this film and get a last look at them in these touching roles and see how charm never fades with age. Cronyn has little to do but lie ill in bed, yet somehow his character remains a focal point. And Verdon's comic relief pairing with the younger son is a real highlight. She also manages a poignant moment or two in a her scenes with Keaton. This truly is an ensemble piece, and it wouldn't have been without their talent. Why I don't yet own a copy of this sweet film is a mystery.
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