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Veronika Decides to Die
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53 out of 73 people found the following review useful:


Author: Tino85 from Sofia, Bulgaria
14 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched the movie at a film festival in Sofia, Bulgaria.

First of all the the music in the movie (especially when Veronika plays the piano) is very moving and really dragged me into the emotions of the scenes. It is so intense as if Veronika's inner world and feelings were my own.In my opinion Sarah Michelle Gellar did a great job conveying the personality of the character to the viewer.

Many people have read the book and I think that many will find the adaptation quite successful. As with other books made into movies, it is not as detailed as the original, but it is surely as intense and emotional.

As for criticism, somehow I find the role of the doctor somewhat secondary, there wasn't much interaction between the two of them. I was also a little surprised at how abrupt the movie ended at first, but as I think of it, a 30 minute ending would do more harm than good.

And the message is what is the most important part, it is something that all of us should be reminded about. And in contrast to other films with great messages, this one has a rich atmosphere that compels you to watch and watch and watch.

I guess more of Paulo Coelho's books will be made into movies, but I hope the adaptation is at least as good as this one.

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41 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Compelling and Powerful!

Author: Red_Identity from United States
1 December 2009

So I finally watched Veronika Decides To Die. Brilliant! I expected an 'okay' film after seeing some of the reviews from where it came out, but I honestly loved it. I have not been this moved by a film in a long time. Having not read the novel from which it is based on, I am sure the film stayed true to the essence and theme of the novel. It is a slow film, sometimes too slow for the 'mainstream' audience, but I was never bored. I have seen films with messages like this before, but somehow Veronika Decides To Die felt authentic, maybe because there has not been a film like this in a very long time. The writing is strong, giving Veronika and the supporting characters real backstory and depth. The director, Emily Young, should direct more than she does. She knows how to really command a scene. There were some flaws, for example the parents felt too one-dimensional, probably because of their small amount of screen time, and the actors that played them were not that great. However, in the acting department, they were the only flaws. Tremendous acting in this film! The star of the film, Sarah Michelle Gellar, really captures an inside look into her character's mind. I feel Gellar is strongly underrated as an actress, but I have always felt that she knows how to play subtle very well. The only other performance besides this where she really fleshed out her acting skills was in the disappointing The Air I Breathe, and the reason she was ignored was probably because the film was less-than-spectacular. However, here she gives her best performance, a tour-de-force performance that is quiet and subtle in the way she approaches the material. I was very impressed, because never did I think she was capable of making a performance this strong and subtle, however good I always knew she was. Melissa Leo and Erika Christensen also deliver first-rate performances. Christensen is charming and amusing, while Leo is powerful (no surprise since she was nominated for an Oscar last year). David Thewlis and Jonathan Tucker are also great, but to a lesser extent. The cinematography was beautiful. The camera-work gives the film a realistic feel to it, and there are some very beautiful images in the film. I have also heard complaining about the ending. I LOVED IT! It really made me happy seeing that this film actually had an optimistic and happy ending, one where Veronika's life is still moving on.

Overall, I could not have been more pleased with Veronika Decides To Die. There is not a reason why anyone should not see this film, unless they are too 'bored'. This film also holds one of the greater themes about life- live it to the fullest, because you never know when you may not even have the option to.

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44 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

The Awareness of Life

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
12 December 2009

In New York, the middle-class Veronika Deklava (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a twenty and something year-old beautiful woman with a good job and a nice apartment. However, the feeling of emptiness of her pessimist view of life leads her to commit suicide with an overdose of pills. She fails in her intent and two weeks later she leaves the coma and awakes in a psychiatric institution directed by the unorthodox Dr. Blake (David Thewlis). She is informed that her OD injured her heart provoking an aneurysm and she has only a few weeks of life. Along the days, Veronika gets closer to the catatonic Edward (Jonathan Tucker), who was left in the institution many years ago. They feel attracted for each other and Veronika discovers the meaning of life again; they escape from the institution and decide to enjoy the miracle of each new day together.

The dramatic "Veronika Decides to Die" is based on the best-seller of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho and has a magnificent performance of Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role of a suicidal young woman. Her complex character becomes aware of the simple things that make life so wonderful only after finding the meaning of love. The screenplay has great lines and discusses good points like the definition of insanity or the meaning of life. The cinematography and the stylish music score are very beautiful. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Veronika Decide Morrer" ("Veronika Decides to Die")

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34 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful adaptation, astonishing acting- Gellar shines.

Author: lorcanryanblack from Ireland
10 December 2009

For years I had a soft spot for the novel 'Veronika Decides To Die', perhaps because Coelho approached the subject material with verve, originality, sensitivity and the understanding that comes only from having lived through something similar.

When I heard of the movie, I was hoping it was going to be handled with the same deft of hand the author had used with the original incarnation of the work. I was worried that a movie of this novel would be haphazard, overtly-dramatic and, frankly, a botched effort. So when Sarah Michelle Gellar became attached to the project I was seriously relieved. Here's an actor who is so under-rated, Gellar has a considerable talent: the ability to transcend genres as an actor and succeed at it. Why she has remained so under-rated in her industry I honestly can't understand.

Her interpretation of Veronika Deklava in Veronika Decides To Die, I'm sure will be defined as being the role of Gellar's career thus far. Gellar makes this movie. Most actors have previously taken similar roles and gone for the overtly-melancholic, Hollywood-style "despair" and self-loathing, making it fraught with unreal overtly emotional behaviour that anyone who has suffered severe depression/mental-illness can tell you is usually not accurate. What Gellar does here is employ subtly, strength and honesty. Her interpretation of Veronika's despair smacks of someone who knows what she's dealing with, or at least has studied the realism of such suffering with consideration: in real life, severe depressives almost always strive to hide their despair from most of those around them. Veronika does this in the novel, and Sarah Michelle Gellar uses her talents to do it with her approach to her role in the film, and the result is an astonishing performance from her.

Gellar's Veronika is somehow far more real and affecting a character than anything thrown out in the last twenty years (e.g: Girl, Interrupted/One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and to lesser degrees movies such as Thirteen, House of Sand & Fog, The Hours...). The movie is slow, but never does it bore, or seem sluggish. I sat rapt with attention, moved to tears and frequently wishing the movie were going at a slower pace due to the astonishing performance of Gellar & indeed the rest of the cast. If you look at the novel itself: this is about Veronika, and how she effects those around her, and this is what the movie focuses on and does so almost flawlessly.

A previous reviewer described Gellar's acting here as a tour-de-force performance, commanding the screen with a subtly, sensitive touch, fraught with mixed emotion, confusion & strength. The rest of the cast are equally on top form, Erika Christensen is sad yet charming, Jonathan Tucker and particularly Melissa Leo are great and highly memorable in their supporting roles.

Not for one second did I think Gellar's Veronika was "void of emotion", on the contrary it's a performance filled with clearly conflicting emotions, broiling beneath the surface, always just a moment away from bubbling to the fore yet nearly always controlled- it's clearly a thought out, hard-worked at performance and having been in Veronika's position, having felt those emotions myself, I can see it in Gellar's performance. Her acting skills get a full workout here, she excels herself and has, I think, raised the bar for other actors in portraying hopelessness, disillusion and mental illness on screen in a way that perhaps only Bjork did in a similar way with her quietly charming but clearly sad, disillusioned yet hopeful portrayal of Selma in Dancer in the Dark.

Alright things are missing in the movie that may have helped, but what they did here was concentrate on the core idea: Veronika. They took it in the right direction and truly, this film shines because of it. The outstanding, subtly & strength of (all) the acting, the beautiful cinematography, the perfectly suited soundtrack and a refreshingly intelligent, honed script have made Veronika Decides To Die not only one of my personal favourite films, but also undoubtedly one of the best movies I have seen in several years. See it, if not for your love of the novel, but for the performances, you will be rewarded.

It has no doubt set the bar for future movies dealing with similar subject material, it shows you can make films about depression and suicide without the irritating emotional circuses previously done in the industry. Coelho, no doubt is very proud- and I'm sure relieved! Sadly I think though it is certainly Oscar worthy stuff on display, I'm not sure due to its rather scattered release, the fact it is independent and unlikely to get as broad a release and publicity as is needed for Oscar contenders generally, it would be tragic if all the bloody great acting on show here does not get its deserved recognition. If I had not already been a major fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar's work before, I certainly would have been after this.

See it!

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25 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable, but not brilliant

Author: from United Kingdom
20 January 2010

2008's emotional bladder infection Twilight was created as a direct result of TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sarah Michelle Gellar was punished for her part in this with lead roles in both The Grudge and Scooby-Doo franchises. Now, freshly repentant and having reconciled with the film industry, she has returned to grace with an admirable performance in Emily Young's Veronika Decides to Die.

Based on the Paulo Coelho novel of the same name (in English anyway) Veronika Decides to Die is the story of a successful young woman, Veronika (played by Gellar) who tries to kill herself after deciding she is on a path towards a future she doesn't want. Unfortunately for her she fails and falls into a coma for several weeks, before being shipped to a mental institution where she is told damage incurred during the suicide bid will kill her within weeks.

Coelho's book focused on Veronika's freedom from constriction and her voyage of self-discovery as she came to terms with her imminent death and the freedom from responsibility that brought about. Young's film takes a more simplistic view and concentrates heavily on her love affair with Edward (Jonathan Tucker), a handsome young inmate who was struck silent after being involved a car accident. He is brooding and has pale skin. You don't see him outside during the day very much. He likes standing in the corner of darkened rooms. He's a wonderful artist.

Aside from similarities to her previous work, Gellar puts in a very strong performance as Veronika, although a confident supporting cast headed by Tucker as Edward and David Thewlis as the institution head Dr Blake help pull the film together during some of the duller moments.

As a serious exploration of anomie and the lack of control felt by many modern city-dwellers over their own lives, or a look at how removing the fear of death from our daily thoughts frees us, Veronika falls flat on its face. As a quirky little tale of love in a mental institution, it excels.

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Most patronising film I have ever seen.

Author: Combovers from United Kingdom
5 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have actually signed up to IMDb today just so I could write this review.

Veronika wants to die is a terrible film. I won't go into the ridiculous plot synopsis (incase anyone actually does want to watch the film), but it is one of the most contrived depictions of mental health I have ever seen in a contemporary film. The patients in the institute are the most one dimensional 'crazies'- catatonic, unintelligent, childlike, etc... It's only a film I hear you say, but with it's so called 'dark' subject matter and shaky hand-held camera I think this film is attempting at some sort of realism. It is anything but.

It has the feel of trying - and failing - to be a film somewhat like Rachel Getting Married (Demme, 2008). However the characters lack depth and the plot (and consequently the ending) leaves you feeling cheated.

The music that's played throughout the film is unnecessary, it distracts from the narrative and leaves you with a conscious feeling of emotional manipulation.

There are many other reasons why this film is terrible, but as I am so enraged of wasting hours of my life watching it, I can't even think straight. I just hope someone else reads this review and doesn't make the same mistake I did.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Expected good, but not this good

Author: crushingaflood from Portland, OR (USA)
30 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been eagerly anticipating a viewing of this movie as it seemed like something right up my alley, but it was so much more fulfilling than I could've prepared myself for. Don't worry, I won't spoil anything.

Veronika Decides to Die is one of those movies that feels like something from another world or time period. The music is enchanting, the dialogue is sophisticated, intelligent and absolutely perfect, and the atmosphere is quite ethereal yet somber. The bulk of the movie takes place at Villete, an expensive mental health clinic that Veronika's parents pay for her to stay at after a botched attempt at suicide. The movie is packed full of beautiful cinematography - from the winding courtyards and gardens outside of Villete to the dark wooded hallways and luxurious furniture within, the atmosphere of the entire movie is incredibly cozy. The music itself is also quite somber and very evocative - definitely a movie to get the soundtrack for.

A brief summary of the movie, without spoilers, basically a slightly colored-up version of the already available plot summary:

Veronika goes home to her NYC condo and attempts suicide only to fail and wake up at Villete. She is told she only has two weeks to live due to irreparable heart damage caused by her botched suicide attempt. At first she is angry at this notion and is intent on ending her life asap instead of waiting the two weeks out at what she views to be nothing more than a glorified mental institution that she feels cannot help her, nor does she want help. However, with her every waking thought and action filtered through the realization that her mortality could be up at any moment, Veronika's approach soon leads elsewhere and what unfolds is what, in my measly little opinion, is the best movie I have seen in years. My only gripe is it was too short. I kept looking at my watch and wishing time would slow down. This movie could've been twice as long; there wasn't a dull moment.

I also noticed some people saying Veronika's character was void of emotion and it was hard to sympathize with her. On the contrary, as someone who has witnessed a friend in a somewhat similar suicidal state, there isn't much room for some over the top Broadway acting. Cold, closed-off and purposely hiding emotions is the reality of these kinds of situations. I've never been a Sarah Michelle Gellar fan but she won me over completely as Veronika. She is so believable, real and with a presence so sincere that it almost seems as if she was born for this role. It is an Oscar worthy performance if there ever was one - some scenes carrying such an emotional weight that I couldn't help but tear up a little. Everything about this movie is beautiful. I'm done gushing, but seriously see it.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Simply Beautiful.

Author: jamieleecurtiz from Canada
14 January 2010

This film is not a flashy, Hollywood story. It does not move quickly and it is not designed to be eye-catching. It is however, a poignant, beautiful piece of expert film-making.

Emily Young directs with an even pace, great attention to detail and she has a knack for focusing in on specific physical details which enrich the emotional architecture of the story. She also, most importantly, understands human behaviour and emotion.

Sarah Michelle Gellar gives a touching, powerful performance as Veronika and anchors the film's strong cast. She will captivate you.

Paulo Coelho's fantastic book is given a fantastic adaptation here. Yes, it's true that much of the story is cut for length and the setting has been changed. But the deeper messages, subtext and soul of the story are perfectly intact.

I recommend this film for any artist, any soulful human being... and anyone who's become jaded and needs to remember how miraculous life can sometimes be.

This film left me in tears... It is beautiful.

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

delicate and dreamer

Author: davslayerx from Italy
25 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw the movie...i have no words,absolutely fantastic. the greatest Gellar's performance in her whole career. the scene when Veronika plays the piano in front of Edward is one of the best i've ever seen:fantastic movie,great have the impression to be in a dream.the soundtrack is also very good and intense as in the piano scene as in the escape scene.sets are also very good,the clinic is absolutely great,this gave to the outside scenes a great impact and touch. Director Emily Young did another great job,this also for Melissa Leo...her Mari was so believable and touching...I really hope that this movie will have a wide release,i think that would be a great movie for adults and teenagers too!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A very thoughtful look at life and death

Author: perkypops from United Kingdom
2 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anyone who has experienced someone close committing or attempting to commit suicide will know how difficult it is to come to terms with not having noticed the signs, done something differently, or been less selfish. And yet this film strips away so many of the myths about suicide it deserves to be watched for taking on us a trip through many simple truths. From Paulo Coelho's profound story, through Emily Young's sensitive direction, and Sarah Michelle Gellar's superbly crafted performance of Veronika, this film is rich in things to spoil yourself with.

The story is simple: Veronika decides to die and we are lead on a trip through human wonderland from there on. There are no spoilers here, and, no matter what ending you wish for as the characters evolve you are going to be taken on a wonderful waltz around the drawing room as the onion layers are stripped away.

My only criticism is the overuse of soft speech against the soundtrack of some often wonderful piano music, but I forgive the film this fault because it has so much more to offer than words. David Thewlis gives a very thoughtful portrayal of the often unorthodox Dr Blake.

This isn't perhaps the greatest cinema but it is compelling as a drama and deserves to be up there with the best movies you can watch.

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