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My Life Without Me

also known as “Mi vida sin mí,” “Ma vie sans moi,” “Mein Leben ohne mich,” “A Minha Vida Sem Mim,” See more »
MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for language.

Reviewed by: Kyria Collins—first time reviewer

Moral Rating: Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults and Older Teens
Genre: Romance Drama Adaptation
Length: 1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release: 2003
USA Release: August 30, 2003 (festival)
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Relevant Issues

What is the origin of BAD things in our world? Answer

Where did CANCER come from? Answer

Issue of pain and suffering

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 kind of world would you create? Answer

Helping others for Christ

How can followers of Christ best help young people who are facing cancer?

mercy / love / truth

Responsibility for our right and wrong actions

sin and the fall of man

compare to goodness and righteousness


SEXUAL LUST—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

Oblivion or Heaven and Hell?

What’s dangerously wrong with Ann’s assumption that oblivion follows death?

death in the Bible

final judgment

final judgment

eternal life versus eternal death

Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer

Why was Hell made? Answer

Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer

What should you be willing to do to stay out of Hell? Answer

What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer

THE GOOD NEWS—How to be saved from Hell. Answer

There is HOPE
Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers
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Featuring Sarah Polley … Ann
Amanda Plummer … Laurie
Scott Speedman … Don
Leonor Watling … Ann, the Neighbor
Debbie Harry (Deborah Harry) … Ann's Mother
Maria de Medeiros … The Hairdresser
Mark RuffaloLee
Julian Richings … Dr. Thompson
Kenya Jo Kennedy … Patsy
Jessica Amlee … Penny
See all »
Director Isabel Coixet
Producer El Deseo
Milestone Entertainment
See all »
Distributor Vanguard Cinema

This film is based on the book Pretending the Bed Is a Raft (1987) by Nanci Kincaid.

What would you do if you were told that you have a fatal and untreatable disease and that you only have a short amount of time to live? What would you do to redeem what little time you have left before passing on?

For 23-year-old Ann (Sarah Polley), this is her exact dilemma. Beforehand, she lives a normal and relatively happy working class life consisting of her, her high school sweetheart husband Don, whom she got pregnant by and married at 17, and their two daughters, Penny and Patsy. The young married couple live in a trailer right behind the house of her mother (played by Debbie Harry of popular rock band Blondie), and each of them work jobs as a janitor and a pool cleaner, respectively.

Nevertheless, they both appear very happy and content with their lives and are very much in love with each other. This was actually very positive and refreshing to see, as it’s a reminder that you don’t need to be filthy rich with a million cars and a giant mansion on a hill to be happy. All of this peaceful happiness and contentment, however, doesn’t last long; Ann begins getting sharp pains in her uterus and abdomen that persist until one day of doing dishes is stalled when an attack of pain gets so sharp that she collapses. Her mother finds her and quickly takes her to the hospital. While there, Ann initially believes that she might be pregnant again and decides to get an ultrasound that’s administered to her by the physician (Julian Richings) when the normal doctor is unavailable. This opinion changes when the physician gently reveals to her that a tumor was found during the examination, and that she has stage three ovarian cancer that is inoperable, and she only has two months to live.

What kind of world would you create? Answer

CANCER—Where did it come from? Answer

Spurred by this shocking and devastating revelation, Ann is now determined to live the last moments of her life with as much colorful passion as she can before she dies.

Now this is a tricky film to review—with its nice cinematography, decent actors and actresses and decent sounding plot and concept. It has no violence, sparse profanity (aside from some f-bombs) and no nudity. Why did I rate it as “Offensive,” you ask? Well because of how the movie supports, condones and excuses lying and dishonesty, as well as the sin of adultery. First of all, Ann shouldn’t have kept lying to her husband, mother, daughters and friend about being sick and dying and keeping it a secret from them, she should’ve been honest about it and used that as an opportunity to spend as much time with them as possible—making something great out of what was left of her life, but instead she wastes all of that on an adulterous fling with a stranger named Lee (played by Mark Ruffalo), whom she also keeps her illness a secret from. Not to mention that she basically uses her next door neighbor, a woman who’s also named Ann (Leonor Watling), to subliminally integrate her as the replacement wife and mother to Don, Penny and Patsy, and all without any of their knowledge, consent and/or permission along with being left in the dark about Ann #1 dying, which makes her look deceitful, sneaky, manipulative and dishonest, and her act of adultery with Lee and aim to make him fall in love with her even though she already has a nice, decent, caring and loving husband for that makes her look selfish and narcissistic.

When God said “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” He said it for good reason, and Ann should know better than to willingly dishonor marital vows that she made to God and her husband, especially when she knows she’s dying.

As for Lee, he’s not that interesting or well drawn of a character and the writers” attempts to make him look mysterious, complex and artsy fall flat. Thankfully, Mark Ruffalo is an excellent actor who steals every scene he’s in and manages to add some depth and pathos to his character and some passion in the dialog he has to speak that would make even the most hardcore romantics, sentimentalists and rom com fans cringe and groan. As for the other characters—Ann’s mother, her imprisoned absentee father, her co-worker friend and even a hair dresser that she befriends at one point—have no real depth or development to them or in Ann’s relationships with them, making them feel like background afterthought props in what’s more like a narcissist’s fantasy of using an illness as an excuse to wrong the people they claim to love, instead of a real movie with an actual plot, message and structure in the characters and the storyline.

What’s also unsatisfying is the movie’s empty, humanistic and false worldview on death, dying and the afterlife, no Biblical/spiritual substance behind it, little-to-no development or resolution in the plot and characters, and no moral consequences to Ann’s selfish, deceitful actions and behavior. Plus, much of the dialog, and the writers” attempts to present quirky side characters and drops of fantasy in the movie feel silly and out of place, such as the scene of people suddenly dancing in the supermarket (part of Ann’s imagination that she indulges herself in to distract herself from her situation: “Nobody thinks about death in the supermarket”—yeah, right!).

If that weren’t bad enough, Ann not only gets away with adultery and lying, the movie ends with her death, but it ends without resolution or development in showing how her family and friends are affected by her death, more so by the fact that she didn’t tell them about it and how they deal with it in the aftermath, at all! Only the physician who diagnosed her—and whom she entrusts birthday message tapes she made for her daughters to give to them—knows, and then Lee is the second one who knows, but only due to her making one last tape for him before her death, yet he doesn’t seem to get mad, upset, shocked, surprised or even bat an eyelash when he finds out via tape that she’s dead. What. The. Heck.

Overall, in spite of the nice cinematography and decent acting, because of how the movie supports and condones lying, dishonesty, adultery, dishonoring one’s marital vows and overall anti-Biblical message as well as holes and inaccuracies in the plot and characters, I can’t (and won’t) recommend it. For a more entertaining, funny, moving, witty, profound and engaging movie about terminal illness, watch “The Fault In Our Stars.” If only “My Life Without Me” had the same poignance, conviction, wit, poeticism, realism, sincerity and earnest emotion as that film did!

Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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