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Two Weeks

Dir. Steve Stockman (Custom Productions) - 2 stars

By Abigail J. Crutchfield, Contributing Writer

Director Steve Stockman’s new film, “Two Weeks,” is about as funny as a good joke at a funeral—although witty, the tragedy of the situation prevents true enjoyment.

Anita Bergman, played by Sally Field, is a woman dying of ovarian cancer. Her children, as well as the audience, are immediately confronted with the harsh realities of such a terrifying illness. Bergman fits in nicely with the rest of Field’s oeuvre—emotional women on the brink of considerable change.

There is no detail omitted in this journal of a woman’s death, and we must watch the cast deal with home nurses, morphine, chemotherapy, and excessive vomiting. The horrifying and graphic scenes of illness are juxtaposed with comedy that sometimes works to raise the mood—but usually comes off as contrived.

Each of the four adult children copes with the mother’s death differently, and the movie focuses on their interactions with each other as they make it through the titular two weeks. The eldest son, played by Ben Chaplan, is unable to cry for his mother. His performance is touching—that is, when one is not distracted by hints of a foreign accent and skin color that calls to mind a foreign exchange student amongst his freckle-faced, whitebread siblings.

Julianne Nicholson, playing the only girl of the four and her mother’s best friend, refuses to leave the house even for a moment and is constantly doling out advice from self-help books such as “How to Die”. The third child, played by Tom Cavanach, is an illness-repulsed workaholic, who learns the importance of slowing down throughout the course of the two weeks. Glenn Howerton gives the weakest performance as the youngest son and a full-grown baby, completely dependent on his witch of a wife,.

The relationship between Sally Field and her husband—stepfather to the four kids—is odd in that it is completely non-existent. Although he complains about being cast aside, he makes absolutely no effort to spend time with his dying wife, making one question why his character exists at all.

The film is shot like a documentary on death, and it alternates between the current moment and a home video recorded by Anita’s eldest son when she was in a healthier state. The candid home video reflects a more positive view of Anita’s life, helping the audience connect with Anita emotionally and feel as nostalgic as those who knew her.

Death is not a possibility but an inevitability in the film and, consequently, the ending leaves nothing to the imagination. In fact, as touching and appealing as Sally Field’s character is, her children—and this reviewer—can’t help but start to wish that she would just hurry up and die.

Despite the film’s humorous moments, death is an unmercifully tragic subject, and attempts to make light of it often fall flat. Decide for yourself whether you would voluntarily choose to spend two hours dealing with such disconcerting feelings.

—Abigail J. Crutchfield can be reached at acrutchf@fas.harvard.edu.

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