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Her son dying of cancer and her marriage falling apart, Julie flees to Poland in search of a man who can heal using his hands. Julie finds not only a magical cure for her son, but also comes across a love so pure it begins to heal the aching in her heart. Written by
The Polish director Agnieszka Holland offers a view about a family in turmoil caused by the illness of a young boy. This film was shown on the Sundance channel recently. Most of the comments submitted about this movie in this forum fail to give credit to Ms. Holland for this tale that blends mysticism, faith, science and betrayal that works well. Stop reading if you haven't seen the picture.
Ms. Holland's film is complicated, in that it asks the viewer to think about how Julie's actions to save Nick, her young son, stricken with a rare cancer, clash with the medical science because she goes with her instincts instead, when she takes the boy to be seen by a folk "healer" in Poland. At the same time her marriage has come to an abrupt end when she learns her husband has betrayed her with another woman, in her own home.
Julie sees an improvement when "the healer" selects Nick as his next project to help and asks her to follow him as he goes through the countryside seeing people. When Nicks starts showing signs of recovery, a mutual attraction develops between Julie and Alexei, the holy man. Julie goes home and Alexei follows her. Something is not quite right with Nick and when he has a relapse, Julie's faith in Alexei's ability to cure her son evaporates, thus ending their relationship, as Alexei abandons Julie.
The film is well done and paced. It engrosses the viewer because Ms. Holland knows where she is taking us. At the end, when Alexei has left, we finally see some sense of harmony in Julie's life, depicted lovingly in the last sequence of the film. Nick, is still not well, but the family has come together by the experience they have been through and we see that Julie is expecting a child. It almost appears as though Nick will die, but there will be a new life in the family. In other words, the sacrifice of Nick's life for the miracle that is growing in Julie's womb.
The movie owes a tremendous deal to the luminous presence of Miranda Otto, who does wonders with her depiction of Julie. Ms. Otto's face projects an intelligence that is uncanny. She makes us believe that she is this woman torn between the medicine that might help her young son, but does nothing, and to what extreme, as a mother, she will go to have Nick cured of the cancer that is killing him slowly.
Lothaire Bluteau is the healer, Alexei. He gives an enigmatic performance that adds another layer to the film. In their scenes together, Mr. Bluteau and Ms. Otto do amazing acting. This Canadian actor's work is never dull; he projects a rare knack to make his characters believable and likable.
Finally, William Fichtner, as Henry, is also excellent. He responds well to Ms. Holland's direction. The twins, played by Ryan Smith and Bianca Crudo are excellent without being bratty, or obnoxious.
Ms. Holland's film will reward those who watch it with an open mind as she never passes judgment on what we are seeing on the screen.
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