20 February 2016 | jimbo-53-186511
Likely to melt all but the iciest of hearts
Classical pianist Kate (Hilary Swank) finds herself in a life-changing situation when she is diagnosed with ALS. 18 months after the diagnosis, Kate and her husband Evan (Josh Duhamel) interview college student Bec (Emily Rossum) in the hope of employing her as Kate's carer. Bec's lack of experience and poor timekeeping are of concern to Evan, but Kate sees something in her and decides to offer her the job. What follows is an employer/employee relationship that is often rocky, but one that proves unforgettable for both women.
The set-up at the start is kind of a 'fish out of water' scenario; Bec is unable to perform any basic duties such as cooking and assisting Kate with her 'lavatorial duties'. This begs the question of why Kate would employ Bec, but this is a minor gripe which I'm prepared to overlook. The other segment in the early stages sets the pair up as a bit of odd couple - 2 people who are completely different spending large amounts of time in each other's company. This set up provides some amusing moments and despite Bec's incompetence and indifference at the start I still actually quite liked her character. The writers did a good job in painting Bec as a young woman lacking in direction rather than someone who was out and out bad (at least that's how I saw her). In this respect Bec's character is a little clichéd, but thankfully her character is fairly well-written and explored - the only thing that I felt could have been expanded more was her notion of becoming a singer/songwriter (this is addressed at the end, but isn't explored well during the film).
Kate's character is more straight-laced; she doesn't like swearing and seems to have morals and principles. The fact that they are so different is what brings about the 'culture-clash', but this in essence is what actually helps to bring about the best in both women. Bec's strong character rubs off on Kate and makes Kate toughen up whereas Kate's strong moral stance clearly rubs off on Bec making her question some of her own life choices.
Although the film is well-written and the characters were well developed these things would be nothing without the wonderful performances from Swank and Rossum. Inevitably, Swank will be the one that gets the most recognition as she had a much tougher task, but Rossum shouldn't be overlooked - she plays her role with a brash edge but there's always an underlying sensitivity with her character. I thought that Rossum's character would annoy me when I saw her in the early stages, but I ended up quite liking her!!!. The chemistry between the two women was excellent and I could see that a warm and deep bond existed between them. Although they were boss and employee at the start you got the impression that they were best friends by the end.
Films of this nature can sometimes end up being a bit sappy and manipulative but I never got that feeling when watching this film. For me, it had a balanced even-handed storytelling approach that painted everyone as human beings and helped to highlight the difficulties that not only an individual suffering with ALS has to endure, but also how this affects everyone around the individual. If you have a heart or any kind of empathy in your body then this is not to be missed.