Fighting for Life…

There are currently two films in the cinema that deal with the topic of cancer. The independant French movie Declaration of War and the larger budget american production 50/50. Although films on cancer aren’t exactly the most uplifting topic, I decided to go with it anyway. Especially because the films take such different approaches to the difficult topic…

Declaration of war (D: Valérie Donzelli, FR 2011)

Although this 2011 Cannes discovery also speaks about cancer in a light tone and humoristic way it’s much more respectful toward the topic. This is certainly partly because the film is autobiographical. The true story was written by the young parents of a baby with a tumor, the mother was the director and the ex-couple play themselves in the film. They won the war and their child is healthy today and they made a heartfelt film on their inspiring story.

50/50 (D: Jonathan Levine, USA 2011)

Adam ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is diagnosed with cancer. His chance of survival is 50% but he pretends he’s still feeling great. Throughout the film there is no speaking about fear or depression, pain or loss of hope. Instead cancer is treated like the one element in the comedy that triggers the action.  The mom that is worried sick is depicted as overreacting, Adams best friend (Seth Rogen) pretends everything is fine and loves that his mate is finally onto weed, which he uses to kill the pain after chemotherapy. And when his girlfriend cheats on him claiming it’s because taking care of him has been so tyring, Adam just starts a little romance with his therapist. There’s few films that I get so agitated with I don’t want to finish watching them. But 50/50 was one of the few. Treating cancer like any other topic just did not work for me. I found it disrespectful and neither tragic nor funny – not a good sign for a tragic comedy…

My life without me (D: Isabel Coixet, CAN/ESP 2003)

When 23 year old Ann (Sarah Polley) is diagnozed with cancer, she decides not to tell anyone. Instead of pity she want to use the time remaining to celebrate her life and prepare the world for her loved ones for the time after her death. She records birthday messages for her daughters, looks for a new wife for her husband, drinks more, dances more, smokes more and flirts with other men.

My life without me is tragic and funny and Ann speaks about (in voice over) and realizes her fears and hopes. The film is fantastic and celebrates life with the dying woman!

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