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In this bittersweet comedy, four adult siblings gather at their dying mother's house in North Carolina for what they expect to be a quick, last goodbye. Instead, they find themselves trapped-- together -- for two weeks. Written by
TWO WEEKS may put a lot of viewers off as it deals confrontationally with the issues of death and dying and yet finds the very human humor that always serves as a relief sidebar in stories (and life incidents) such as this. Steve Stockman wrote, directed and produced this little film and his inspiration and efforts are well served by a fine ensemble cast. It is a story about dying and the effects the finality of that event have on a family that has dispersed in different directions life.
Anita Bergman (a phenomenally effective Sally Field) is under hospice care as she faces her last days of dying from gastrointestinal cancer. Knowing that she has little time left she calls upon her four children to return home to North Carolina for goodbyes. Her children are a mixed lot: Keith (Ben Chaplin) is a Zen-influenced California man who has decided to video his mother for posterity; Barry (Thomas Cavanagh) is a workaholic who attempts to piece together time for this inconvenient disruption in his work routine; Matthew (Glenn Howerton) is the baby of the family dominated by a tactless wife whom the rest of the family detest; Emily (a luminous Julianne Nicholson) is the sole sister who has collected all the books on the dying process for her brothers' education and is the stalwart one who holds the family together. Anita divorced the children's father and remarried a quiet man Jim (James Murtaugh) who is essentially ignored or tolerated by the children. Anita shares memories, both tender and hilarious, about her life with her family, and as the hospice nurse Carol (Michael Hyatt) tenderly leads the children through the instructions regarding final care, the four bond again, become more accepting of their disparate directions, share some very funny conversations to relieve the gloom of the event, and interact more than they have since childhood. By the time of the inevitable event come each of the children and their current father have found vulnerabilities and expanded the tokens of love left to them by Anita, now able to carry out Anita's wishes with a modicum of grace and a lot of warmth.
Using the last two weeks of life as a platform for coming together provides the film ample opportunity to address many issues - marriage, children, family, religion, and individuality. The film is balanced by the superb performance of Sally Field on the one end and the wholly realized characterization by Julianne Nicholson on the other end. In many ways it is the continuity between the lives of these two women that make the story memorable. There are some fine lessons to be heard in this film, and the telling of the story is very satisfying to watch. Grady Harp
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