On the day that a serial killer that he helped put away is supposed to be executed, a noted forensic psychologist and college professor receives a call informing him that he has 88 minutes left to live.
In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian (1928 - 2011 ) in the 1990s, when he defies Michigan law assisting the suicide of terminally-ill persons. Support comes from his sister, a lab tech, the Hemlock Society president, and a lawyer. The child of survivors of the Armenian genocide interviews applicants: his sister video tapes them. He assembles a device allowing a person to initiate a three-chemical intravenous drip. The local D.A., the governor, and the Legislature respond. In court scenes, Kevorkian is sometimes antic. He's single-minded about giving dying individuals the right to determine how their lives will end. He wants the Supreme Court to rule. He picks a fight he can't win: is it hubris or heroism? Written by
What a different role for Pacino! But, he was just as great and totally brilliant and believable in this quiet but driven, eccentric role as he usually is in his other roles where he furiously eats the scenery throughout.
I wasn't sure if his "Midwestern" accent was a Fargo caricature or if he was merely channeling Chief Dan George in Little Big Man, but it sure was interesting to hear an NYC Italian able to be so believable in his upper midwest accent that was located about 10 miles east of Minneapolis, or close thereabouts. Meryl Streep, move over.
The philosophy of this controversial subject is much more serious. America is so far behind the rest of the world in assisted suicide, as many countries now allow a person to die an assisted death for any reason, with no incurable illness or the like required. All it requires is a waiting period to be positive of the hard decision made. And here we are in the good old retarded USofA, still not allowing the dignified assisted death of terribly suffering and/or terminal souls who merely and quietly want nothing more disruptive than a personal, peaceful, and painless end to their agonizing day-to-day existence. (I totally agree with the rest of the world that it is as much or more an individual decision as is having an abortion and no political or religious entity should have any say in what a person makes up his mind to do in this matter. These intruding entities should not play any part at all in influencing and determining the right and wrong of it, as there is none to a rational thinker.)
All supporting roles were well done, with John Goodman bringing much needed comic relief at times to this achingly serious story. Brenda Vaccaro as the doc's conflicted sister and fellow death-with-dignity proponent Susan Sarandon were truly positive additions to the cast. Direction by the brilliant Barry Levinson was nonpariel and as good as his earlier Rain Man.
I truly hope this film moves the assisted death argument forward in America as it couldn't go any further backward, and more is the pity for that unevolved thinking.
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