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A Portland couple have two children with Pompe disease, a genetic anomaly that kills most before a child's tenth birthday. The husband, John, an advertising executive, contacts Robert Stonehill, a researcher in Nebraska who has done innovative research for an enzyme treatment. He has little money to fund his laboratory, and a thorny personality that drives away colleagues and funders. John and his wife Aileen raise money to help Stonehill's research and the required clinical trials. John takes on the task full time, working with venture capitalists and then rival teams of researchers. Time is running short, Stonehill's angry outburst hinder the company's faith in him, and the profit motive may upend John's hopes. The researchers race against time for the children who have the disease.Written by
I went to see this film with some personal trepidation, but the lure of a possibly good story drew me in. I can say I wasn't disappointed. It's often difficult to objectively assess the work in a contemporary film because much of the surroundings seem common place. I can say that the sets, art direction and costuming seemed to be a comfortable fit and lent it a sense of realism that I appreciated and that also happened to add to the fine production quality of the film.
But as must be the case in a film of this nature, the quality ultimately comes down to the efforts invested by the director and his cadre of accomplished actors. Their efforts certainly didn't disappoint me. The lion's share of the load was placed squarely on the shoulders of Brendan Fraser as John Crowley. I had a personal sense of justice on the line with how well he might do. There were several scenes that rang true to life for me; his portrayal of the internally tortured, desperate and determined father of two terminally ill children made me feel he did such real fathers justice. I think I can say that because I once was one myself.
The other performances were excellent as well. I would have a tough time in faulting Harrison Ford as Dr. Robert Stonehill. He gave a great performance as an overworked, frustrated scientist - something I can also relate to as I've been something of a scientist in my past myself. He felt real to me; I've known men just like him, maybe including me - I guess you'd have to ask my former colleagues how close it was.
But the other performance that I was particularly taken with was that of Courtney B. Vance as Marcus Temple. His tight emotional presentation went right to my heart and hung there heavily. It felt like me, I wanted to hug the man; maybe cry with him. I'd love to see him receive a nomination for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Not to be left out is Keri Russell as Aileen Crowley. She gave a good performance, but to me it seemed a little less emotional than mothers like this I've personally known; especially my own wife. I also think they could have given her more space to reveal a character that would be more in depth but that's not her fault - maybe the screen writers? So, in the final analysis I think she did a great job and certainly did nothing to diminish real mothers like her character.
As one may have surmised from what I've written, I may be too personally prejudiced to look at any film like this with artistic fairness. So judge me if you like; you can go to a web site at http://webpages.charter.net/bruce.jones1/ and click on the button labeled "Belinda" on the left; it gives a personally biased but true story of my daughter's struggle for life. Let me know what you think ... you can also be treated to photos of the world's largest Lady Bug collection as a reward for your trip - a collection she started.
The bottom line is this - by all means go see this film; especially if you've been so fortunate as to never have experienced this kind of tragedy yourself. And when you do see it, give some thought in the future to the fact that, in this country, we spend more money advertising beer than we do fighting lethal childhood diseases.
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