Two close friends. Sharing everything, including girls. One of them becomes a doctor, the other becomes very ill. Suffering from an incurable illness, he wants to end his life in dignity, before it is not worth living anymore. His friend, the doctor, has to cope with an impossible dilemma.
This is the story, based on historic facts, of Tot Altijd (Until Forever). The MS-patient Mario Verstraete campaigned in Belgium for a law making euthanasia legal, and he was the first to put the new law into practice. The film focuses on Verstraete's relationship with his friends, each of whom react in a different way to his wish to die.
Films about death tend to be very serious and heavy. Tot Altijd is not, thanks to the very sharp and witty dialogue of the friends, some of whom are masters in black humour. They constantly tease each other and have little respect for formality or political correctness. Just one example: hours before Mario Vestraete will get a deadly medicine, his doctor and friend Thomas gets a call from a Belgian newspaper called La Dernière Heure (The Last Hour). 'How symbolic can you get', he immediately jokes.
Still, there are some pretty gripping scenes in the film. One is the scene where Verstraete and two doctors set the date for the final act of ending his life. Thomas, who is also present, is visibly shocked by the way Vestraete matter-of-factly marks the date in his diary. Another very strong scene is the final gathering of the friends, to say goodbye tot Verstraete. One of them decides to read the speech he has prepared for the funeral. Anyone not touched by this scene, has a heart of stone. Be prepared for tears on the screen as well as in the cinema.
The film is emotional, but never gets sentimental. It's no easy job to keep the balance between the two, but director Nic Balthazar succeeds effortlessly. Moreover, the acting is superb. This is a movie that will touch anyone who sees it.
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