Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
What about the Psalm 91 promises? (“…no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent…”) Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
Starring: Jami Gertz, Martha Plimpton, George Peppard, Bruce Payne, Rip Torn, Gayle Hunnicutt | Director: Carl Schenkel | Producers: Götz George, Günter Rohrbach, Karl Spiehs, Luggi Waldleitner, Michael Röhrig, Carl Schenkel | Screenwriters: Bea Hellman, Carl Schenkel | Released By: Moviestore Entertainment
This is a disturbing film, but it’s based on a true story, and it deals forthrightly with the uncomfortable subject of dying.
A young professional ballerina, Eva Martin (Jami Gertz, “Twister”), is losing weight to the point that her dance partner mistimes his lifts and drops her on her face. Then she becomes unable to perform—collapsing on stage. She’s admitted to a special hospital ward that she slowly learns is for cancer patients only. She has a lymphosarcoma, while her extremely angry roommate Claudia Jacoby (Martha Plimpton—“Running On Empty”) has chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
People from every background and relationship to Eva and Claudia—family members, friends, physicians, hospital staff, the chaplain—are shown interacting with the patients, often very awkwardly. The patients, with a barely-suppressed rage at having their lives snatched away from them, are often cruel to their relatives and caregivers, but sometimes their cruelty is understandable.
As we might expect, the platitude-mouthing chaplain is a disgrace to the Christian ministry. Eva’s father (George Peppard) sometimes seems to be mean, but, in fact, he’s encouraging Eva to fight the disease. The acting is tremendous all around.
Content Warnings: The creative profanity, and the underlying bad attitudes, are extreme. There’s no sense of hope in God anywhere in the film. And there’s a theme of assisted suicide, which is presented in a positive light. The girls talk about sex a lot, sometimes very crudely, but there’s no actual sexual content. No nudity, except for a cardiac arrest/defibrillation sequence during a cancer operation.
SUFFERING—Why does God allow the innocent to suffer? Go…
Whatever its drawbacks, this film deals with things that go on every day but are rarely displayed on film. I’ve worked in hospital settings for many years; seen several people die and some “brought back to life” with CPR and defibrillation; observed the various ways patients, family, and medical staff deal (or fail to deal) with sickness and dying. In this film as in real life, the threat of death serves as a reminder that life is precious and shouldn’t be wasted. I recommend this film for mature audiences.