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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

PG-13 - intense emotional and physical depiction of a child's illness

Author: ryanlupin from London, England
20 December 2004

In this alternately heartbreaking and uplifting drama inspired by actual events, a small town Midwest family discovers that their youngest son suffers from epilepsy. Left without hope after their insurance runs out, the mother presses on, studies everything she can find out about the illness, and, against the wishes of her local doctor, takes her son to Baltimore for treatment with the controversial ketogenetic diet.

The title of this movie-made-for-television, First Do No Harm, comes from the Hippocratic oath which doctors take as part of their vocation.

However, in many cases physicians are loath to recommend procedures not because they do anyone harm but because their efficacy is not supported by scientific research. This is the case when four-year-old Robbie (Seth Adkins) is diagnosed as having a type of epilepsy for which the cause is unknown. His parents, Lori (Meryl Streep) and Dave (Fred Ward), agree to a series of excruciating drug treatments which only seem to worsen his condition. Their situation becomes more complicated when they learn that their health insurance policy has lapsed.

Then Lori discovers a regimen called the Ketogenic Diet; one-third of the epileptic children on this diet have experienced no additional seizures. Robbie's parents are furious with his doctor (Allison Janney) for not telling them about this treatment and then refusing to facilitate their trying it. Instead, she recommends brain surgery for the boy.

The finale of the drama demonstrates the distance some families have to go to take control of the health and welfare of their loved ones. First Do No Harm presents a blistering attack on the rigidity and insensitivity of the medical establishment.

Outstanding performances from both Meryl Streep and child sensation, Seth Adkins. Definitely a 'must-watch!!'

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

inspiring story

7/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
29 May 2005

Beautifully acted by Meryl Streep and the rest of the cast, this film is based on a true story of a mother who defied the medical profession to get her son on the ketogenic diet at Johns Hopkins.

Due to the tremendous lobbying power of the AMA in this country, alternative treatments are not recognized here the way they are in Europe and in other countries. Yet people often have to be subjected to harmful, and often unhelpful medications. One hears a lot about animal experimentation - in the end, the guinea pig is always the human patient, as doctors "try out" drug cocktails and new drugs on patients who suffer horrible side effects from them, as did the child in this film.

I won't give away the twist at the end of the film, but watch it clear to the end and you'll get a marvelous surprise.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

excellent realistic, heart wrenching story

7/10
Author: dlevitt-1 from California
27 February 2005

Meryl Streep took a break from feature films for a rare TV movie role, while Jim (Airplane!) Abrahams took a break from wacky comedies, to tell this extraordinary story of a family that must take its health care into its own hands when the medical complex is failing them - after losing almost everything. Their son seems to have a variety of epilepsy that's tragically difficult to diagnose and treat.

Many have lost family members because they didn't have the strength and courage to challenge their doctors' biases before it was too late. So this true story is an important vaccine for people who need to take back responsibility for their families' health. It's a stark contrast and partial antidote to thousands of made-up movie and TV medical stories.

Streep, Fred Ward and the rest of the cast are superb. Allison Janney is perfectly cast as the doctor, because in real life the 'bad guys' are often smart, attractive, and certain they're doing the right thing.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

I can truly relate with wishes.

10/10
Author: Jacklyn Wells (jacklynwells@yahoo.com) from USA
27 June 2004

The movie moved and touched my soul to see a youth being treated and healed in a good way from epilepsy. I have had seizures since the age of 2 from being hit by a car and now I'm 25. I am currently on medication since I was 18 and only had one seizure due to stopping my medication once, otherwise medication is controlling them but not getting totally rid of the seizures. My parents never treated me in any kind of way for my condition, they just let me have seizures. I feel so scared and helpless that the diet may not work for me after all these years. Wish I had the help and support, I just leave it all up to God.

God Bless

Jacklyn Wells

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Fabulous!

10/10
Author: Sean Richard McCarthy (srmccarthy1000@gmail.com) from United States
1 February 2003

I can't count how many times I have watched this movie! I never get tired of it! The acting is so good it's easy to become emotionally involved. Not to mention the fact that it's based on actual events! Observe the wonderful performance by Seth Adkins! If you like him in this, you HAVE to check out "When Andrew Came Home"!

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Truly enriching experience!

Author: Ela-5 from Croatia
3 July 2002

There is no doubt that any movie with Meryl Streep is well worth watching and that she will always find a way to surprise and impress the audience. This movie is no exception from that point.

However, the reason I decided to add my comment has little do with the main star (and one of the producers of the movie!), but very much to do with the story itself, particularly the element of medical staff's arrogance which was brilliantly shown. "First Do No Harm" tells the story of an epileptic child, whose family struggles with his condition, trusting that doctors and scientific methods will help cure him. As the times go by, it becomes evident that the child is not getting better. Doctors refuse to admit their methods are not resulting with any progress but suggest more radical treatments, regardless that the family disagrees with them. On one side stand the people in white coats who base their authority much more on their degree rather than on the confidence in results they have (not) achieved; on the other are parents, especially the mother, who instinctively feels her child is being treated the wrong way. The scene in which a simple, frightened woman steps into the big doctor's office and expresses her frustration with the fact her son gets all sorts of medications, when one is used just to cover the side-effects of another and causes another set of symptoms that need new treatments, is especially strong and significant.

After realising that she has no-one else to rely on but herself, the mother does her own desperate research and comes up with a discovery of a form of treatment she has never been told about, but strongly believes it is at least worth trying. The treatment is ketogenic diet, some kind of natural method that forces the body to use its own resources to fight the epilepsy. The method gives good results, a drug and seizure-free life, for about 1/3 of the patients treated by it. Again she stands alone against the rigid medical establishment that obviously finds it hard to admit the failure of drugs treatments and still insist the mother is incompetent of a sensible judgement. However, this time the child will get the treatment that mother feels will give some hope, and the end result will be the complete recovery.

As a strong supporter of alternative medicine I found the message of the movie extremely important. The doctors are competent, educated individuals whom we are supposed to trust with our health. However, the chemical/drug treatment or operations they are so eager to prescribe are not necessarily the only good ways of treating the ruined health. In my experience I've seen far too often that "classical" doctors are not too welcoming to alternative methods, justifying this by insignificant research and proofs that nautral methods actually work, at the same time forgetting that many methods they are using are not proved either.

The people who have been treated from epilepsy by ketogenic diet method play a few characters in the movie. This is a wonderful way of supporting the movie and its message and I was delighted with the final scenes in which these people were presented.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Non-Epileptic Reviewer

10/10
Author: bookerguy from Canada
28 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I may not be a person living with Epilepsy, but I live with someone who has it. This movie is a moving portrayal of a family coping with a son with seizures he cannot control and the medical establishment that won't do what's needed to help their son so the mother does whatever she can to help her son overcome the disorder that has taken over his life by trying to get him into a program called the Ketogenic Diet and doing whatever is necessary to help her son. The film also shows how the family copes with their family members epilepsy. Realistic portrayal of a seizure which will make you cry. I know it did for me. I recommend this movie for people with epilepsy and those without so they can see how epilepsy and seizures can take control of ones life.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

By far a movie worth watching.

10/10
Author: Paige Streep from United States
4 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really enjoy watching Meryl Streep in everyone of her movies. She is by far a very talented actress and one that only comes around once in a generation. This movie is so moving. Seth Adkins, who plays the ill child, is also very talented. He is shockingly believable as a child with epilepsy, especially for a kid his age. This movie will definitely make you think twice about how well you have it. You will fall in love with the character of Robby and feel the pain his family has to go through. During the hardships they face. Everyone who watches this movie will most likely think twice about epilepsy and not think of it as a small disease. I had know idea that it was so serious or that there was a cure to stop the ceasars.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

...first do not dramatize

7/10
Author: stamper from The Netherlands
13 May 2003

The main and actually the only complaint I have about this film is, that it falls prey to the typical TV movie set up, which means that this truth inspired story is somewhat over dramatized. Apart from that though, there is nothing much I have to complain about. The performances are safe and sound and so is the directing. I will not give away too much here, but this film is actually quite thought provoking, even in the beginning, starting with the oath of Hippocrates that each doctor is destined to take before being set free on the general public. Note the part where the oath contains the subjectivity of the doctor in stating that the doctor should do the things he deems necessary, right or something of the like. This part of the oath of Hippocrates sets the tone for the rest of the movie, in which doctor's seem to do what they seem is best, but not try everything there is, because it is supposedly not to be scientifically proven. While watching this film one actually gets the impression that our dear doctors think that something is scientific only when it is either scientifically manufactured (drugs) or when there are active reconstructions made on the human body. The fact that other forms of treatment (like acupuncture, diet, change of environment) could actually do something about a disease is out of these scholars reach and most of them seem to make the mistake of looking at diseases through the view of their studies and totally neglecting the more logical holistic view on illnesses. This film shows us that there are things that can go wrong when you go to the doctors, that they too are only humans and its advice is: smarten up. If you're seriously ill, read books, educate yourself and make sure that everything there is has been tried, because even doctor's can make mistakes.

7 out of 10

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Abslutley Fornomanal!

10/10
Author: henry emp from United Kingdom
25 July 2010

Meryl Streep is a mother of three children. When Her Youngest child(Fred Ward) is struck with epilepsy and is near his death. The hospital he is in does nothing but gives him drugs and they just do not work. The mum does some research and finds a diet for epilepsy and he does it.

This film is sad but don't give up when your watching it because it has the happiest ending a film could have. Meryl streep is exceptional and it is probably her best film. I would recommend it to people who like Drama films or know someone with epilepsy.

All I can say is you MUST watch this film and it is really really good.

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