User Reviews (8)

Add a Review

  • Although she is mainly known these days for portraying Maya Gallo on the hit NBC comedy sitcom JUST SHOOT ME, Laura San Giacomo should be praised for her dramatic performance in the true story of Jenifer Estess, a brilliant woman stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, otherwise known as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).

    'JENIFER' opens with shots of Giacomo dancing to the radio in her kitchen as she gets ready for work, making herself coffee and slamming the refrigerator door with her foot as she bolts out the door to make it on time to the theater where she works as a drama producer. These pivotal small moments make the viewer understand how precious these things will become to Jenifer once she is stricken with the disease.

    We are introduced to her sisters, Valerie and Meredith, brilliantly portrayed by Jane Kaczmarek and Annabella Sciorra, who show the true bond of 'sisterhood' as they stick with her through the good and the bad times to help her deal with her ailing condition. A few small incidents lead Jenifer to realize that there is something wrong with her. She drops a few things, loses her balance, finds herself commonly out of breath and the lack of energy or strength to use her motor skills. Jenifer was only 35 when she was diagnosed with the disease and Laura San Giacomo brilliantly portrays her life from herein.

    Many cameos throughout the tele-movie are portrayed by different television personalities. Marisa Tomei plays one of the actresses in the production Jenifer is involved with at the theater. Scott Wolf plays a would-be blind date who is turned off by Jenifer's condition. Julianna Margulies is the psychiatrist-cum-MD Jenifer visits to try and pinpoint the condition that she has. Camryn Manheim is Jenifer's hard, unsympathetic nurse. Rob Morrow is the Doctor who eventually joins the ALS Foundation to help research stem cell growth.

    As Jenifer's disease eventually constricts her body from total movement, the film becomes a fight for her life as the focus turns directly to the research of stem cell growth on mice and the hopes that one day, humans may receive the same treatment.

    This tele-movie is an inspirational piece of work dedicated to those who rely on stem cell research, including those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. The only issue I had with this tele-movie was the 'too-feminine' theme that en-shrouded this production. I could identify the strong 'sisterhood' bond between Jenifer, Valerie and Meredith, but with the sugar-coated grab-your-tissues situations and the sound-track mainly consisting of singers such as Sheryl Crow, k.d. Lang and Aimee Mann, the whole production felt like something that was intended for Lifetime, Television for Women. Lou Gehrig's disease is NOT something that only a woman can be diagnosed with. I felt that this production should have been a bit more broad-minded with the audience that it was trying to reach.

    Overall, as a male, I still found this tele-movie to be highly inspirational and I give high honors to Laura San Giacomo for portraying this human being as something that should eventually garner her a long-deserved Emmy Award.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this movie for the second time this evening. The first time I saw it I was unaware of my own orphan disease. Now, a few years later, and I have a diagnosis (not ALS) and am more disabled than ever.

    This movie is so real. That's what struck me the most. It depicts the change from healthy adult to a person who has to struggle to do the simplest things. The loss of independence, freedom, having to plan before venturing out, needing caregivers.

    What I liked about it was it's reality. What I admired was the Estess family. Each actor portrayed the subtleties of a loved ones struggling to help and deal with their own feelings. This movie really covered the entire picture extremely well. It's rare to find one that does, for any illness.

    If you have any disability, particularly if you became disabled after being perfectly healthy as a young adult, I highly recommend this movie.

    Follow up on Jenifer's story at Project ALS online here:-
  • I was lucky enough to be able to watch this movie on t.v. here last week and i must say i was moved to tears on more than one occasion. It is an emotional movie that goes into the life of Jenifer Estess and the emotional impact being diagnosed with ALS has on not only her but her family. I found the movie well worth the watch, it taught me a lot about the disease that i didn't know and that its well worth the fight to try to find a cure.... I found the movie was one i couldn't move away from, it took you on a journey from before diagnosis until she couldn't move at all for herself anymore. It was a heart wrenching movie for anyone who has a sister, brother, mother, father or close family or friend who can only imagine what it must have been like for all of them to go through the pain of knowing that ALS is a death sentence. The acting was excellent, a full range of emotions was displayed. I could basically not fault it for what seems like an honest account of not only one life but a family as a wholes life which was effected by such a cruel disease.
  • I saw this movie when it first aired and i have seen it many times. I watched the movie to see Julianna Margulies knowing she didn't have a big part and that i would change it after she came on. However, i couldn't bring myself to change the channel because it was to good and i wanted to see how it all played out in the end. And may i add it was great!! 10 out of 10
  • Niv-15 November 2001
    "Jenifer" contains one of the best performances of 2001. Laura San Giacomo is astounding as the ALS stricken Jenifer Estes. ALS is a disorder where the brains ability to control the muscles is destroyed. ALS is a lot like Multiple Sclerosis. San Giacomo's performance can easily be compared to Emily Watson's in "Hilary and Jackie." Both performances were technically impressive and moving.

    It looks like the best performances given by women in 2001 will have been on Television. With Judy Davis playing Judy Garland and Emma Thompson in Wit, and now San Giacomo's work in Jenifer, an amazing year. One of San Giacomo's best scenes is when after the symptoms start. Jenifer tries to walk up five flights of stairs and is completely drenched in sweat when she gets to the top.

    Giving solid supporting performances are, Annabella Sciorra and Jane Kaczmarek as Jenifer's crusading sisters. Jane Alexander and Camryn Manhein are also very good.

    "Jenifer" is one of the best movies of 2001.
  • This young lady had a career, and was an outstanding individual. Why was she, and so many, outstanding people, in good health, with good history, afflicted with this disease?? Keri Brown Still also died with ALS. She died at age 29, this year, 2008, with ALS. She left a 10-month old daughter, and a husband. She only lived a year after a PROBABLE diagnosis of ALS.

    Like Jenifer, she faced much frustration with the medical field. This is why, in Keri's memory, we just held the 1st annual, KERI B. STILL CONFERENCE on ALS this Nov. 14, 2008, in Winston-Salem, NC. Please visit the website, to learn more about ALS and Keri, and the extraordinary person she was. She was not 40, or even 30. She barely had achance for a career, but mostly she had only weeks to be a MOM. THis was her greatest joy, and her greatest sorrow.
  • Leparsdon21 January 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    I found this movie to be quite trivial and indifferent at many points in the film. They cast women who don't look like they could be friends, much less sisters, there was no real chemistry with any of the actors and it plays solely on the fact that they were all "sisters". They never touch on how her sisters magically one day have enough money to just start a foundation to support research for the disease, nor does it touch on the deeper controversies of stem cell research. It was lacking real compassion and only a handful of scenes really showed what it was like for her to be sick. The part with her boyfriend was pretty much pointless, and his exit didn't make that much sense either. Overall it wasn't a very good movie about Jenifer Estess, and the actress they picked to play her did the character no justice at all. Repetitious, cliché and most importantly, boring. Avoid at all cost.
  • georgesnew26 July 2006
    I just caught the last 45 minutes of this film. whilst i appreciate that its based on true incidents - i think its almost an insult to this poor Jenifer that such a corny film should be made about.

    what is so startling is that i don't think Americans are aware of when they are watching or making a cliché or something that is hideously sentimental such as this. i was praying for the mother from Malcolm in the middle to not fall into the trap - but sadly she did. shame. guess you just do what your director tells you to.

    To watch these three sister hold hands, weep and gives speeches, with the gentle sound of piano music can only make you laugh (out loud - i did) - what ever their physical condition is.

    as i was watching it, i thought - surely people can not at one point have been watching this in a cinema - of course not - its a TV film.

    Ar*e of the highest order. */**********