Annabel is a terminally ill cancer patient and is quietly awaiting her death spending her time studying nature. Enoch is struggling to recover from the death of his parents and spends his time attending funerals with his only friend - a ghost named Hiroshi who was a WWII Japanese kamikaze pilot. Just as Annabel's sister is trying to cope with Annabel's impending death, Annabel and Enoch fall in love. They both finally have a reason to live, but is it too late to have a life together? Written by
'About the hospital. I don't work there. I am a patient.'
Gus Van Sant probably understands the minds of youngsters better than any director around and he proves it again in this rhapsodic film about loss and love and loss again. His cast is so well selected that they seem to be an ensemble from a stage company, so well integrated are their relationships in this beautiful film written by Jason Lew.
Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper, son of Dennis Hopper, and a very fine actor) survived a car accident in which his parents were killed: he remained in a coma and missed their funeral and the chance to in some way say goodbye. Living with his Aunt Mabel (Jane Adams), he now spends his days not attending school but instead going to strangers' funerals. One funeral organizer (Christopher D. Harder) notices his repeated appearances and tries to have him arrested for trespassing but he is saved by a strange girl named Annabel (Mia Wasikowska in a brilliant performance). Annabel also attends funerals: she tells Enoch that she works with children with cancer at a hospital. Enoch is wary of making friends - his only ally being a Japanese kamikaze pilot ghost Hiroshi Takahashi (Ryo Kase) with whom he talks about everything. But gradually Enoch and Annabel bond and Annabel reveals to Enoch that she doesn't work with 'cancer kids', she is one - she has brain cancer and is on short-term time. Annabel's sister Elizabeth (Schyler Fisk) and mother Rachel (Luisa Strus) accept Enoch's growing supportive love for Annabel. As Enoch grows form his experience with Annabel he no longer needs the presence of his ghost or his need for attending funerals and instead spends his time giving Annabel the best three months (remaining) of her life. How the story draws to an end is so enchanting that to share it would deprive the viewer of the magic of this film.
This is one of those perfect little films that glow in the heart. Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper create such memorable characters that once seen they will never be forgotten. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
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