Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Weeks: A Film As Good As Terms Of Endearment

I saw an ad today on TCM for the Academy Award Winning Film "Terms Of Endearment". It will be shown on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 in case you want to see it. It made me think of a movie I saw last year that didn't receive any attention at all as far as I know, and I'm sure most people have probably never heard of it. Yet, as far as a movie dealing with families and death are concerned, I think this one is just as good as "Terms of Endearment", and while a dramedy, the relationships within the family between brothers and sisters ring totally true.

Mom, played with masterful restraint by Sally Field, has had a full, if somewhat abbreviated, life. She has told her children just about everything that needs to be said; she has dutifully divvied up her belongings. There are no last-minute confessions, no head-spinning plot twists. All that's left is for her to breathe her last, and for her four grown children to be there…just be there…in her final two weeks.

As for the kids, they're an unremarkable lot: not a profoundly maladjusted misfit, domineering alpha child, nor smothering big sister in the bunch. And it is this sense of ordinariness, this atmosphere of unremarkable grief (last time I checked, everyone's mother dies, and most of them are loved) that makes Two Weeks singularly affecting. Absent any mind-bending plot devices, Two Weeks becomes a film of scattered moments, slices of life (and the end of life) that ring with disarming authenticity.

As the dying Anita, Field is courageous in her relentless portrayal of physical deterioration, drifting toward the inevitable end, marshaling moments of adrenaline-driven strength in the presence of her grandchildren and old friends. Her character's face drawn and weakened by cancer, Fields enlists her remarkable eyes to flash moments of joy, regret, anger, and momentary terror. Dying from the first frame, Anita is infused by Field with defiant life—not the kind that rails against the darkness, but one that looks around and finds easy evidence of a life well lived.

Two Weeks offers several peripheral characters—daughters-in-law, distant relatives, even a second husband—but they are sketchily defined, and their comings and goings are fuzzy at best. Their cursory appearances are of little consequence. This is a movie about mothers and children and the gratifying, gut-wrenching process of saying goodbye.

The riesen2b blog-o rama-ter gives this 4 out of 5 stars.

You can pick up the DVD at Amazon.Com for about 11 bucks right now by clicking here.

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