27 November 2014 | 3xHCCH
Intense Torture of ALS
Kate is a woman who has it all -- beautiful, wealthy, a talented pianist, had a loving husband. Bec is a young woman who seemed to have everything going against her -- irresponsible college student, always drunk, sleeps around, a failed musician.
But one fateful day, Kate was diagnosed with the debilitating neurologic disease called ALS, which left her progressively helpless with her personal care. When she was choosing her caretaker, Kate saw something in this mess that is Bec. From there, these two women, who are polar opposites of each other, get along, bond and help each other get through their lives.
When ALS was mentioned as the diagnosis, you knew then where this film is headed. ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and its devastating consequences has been in the news very much this year because of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge. There will be no surprises what will happen anymore during the course of the story up to the predictable end.
However, what will keep you glued to the screen are the performances of the two lead actresses: Hilary Swank as Kate, and Emmy Rossum as Bec.
I have not seen Hilary Swank for a long time already since her two Oscar Best Actress wins in the previous decade for "Boys Don't Cry" (1999) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004). This film is somewhat reminiscent of the second film where she played a female boxer who had a spinal cord injury that made her quadriplegic.
Here in "You're Not You," the progress of the neurologic disorder is gradual, so Swank brought us on a torturous tour of how it is like to have your body deteriorate even as your brain remains completely lucid. Her character Kate remains so magnanimous throughout her ordeal, making her character likable and sympathetic even if we do not understand much of what she was saying.
I have not seen Emmy Rossum in another role since her breakthrough as the ingenue Christine in the film version of the Broadway musical "The Phantom of the Opera" (2004). Her brash and slovenly character here is so different from the meek, refined Christine in Phantom. This effectively shows the wide range Ms. Rossum has gained over the years.
Here we will also see the reaction of different people around them, their parents, the men in their lives, their friends, which kept things interesting.
Josh Duhamel plays Kate's controlling husband Evan. Frances Fisher plays Kate's mother, while Ed Begley Jr. plays her favorite uncle. Loreta Devine plays a fellow ALS patient who becomes her friend, while Eddie Hudson plays her supportive husband. Ali Larter and Andrea Savage play her fair-weather friends. On Bec's side, we have Marcia Gay Harden who plays her cold mother. Julian McMahon plays her sleazy professor. Jason Ritter plays a dorky but persistent suitor.
This film may be hard to swallow in several parts because of the intensity of the dramatic situations. The psychological reactions of the characters do not seem too typical, which is also good as it gave the material some unexpected surprises. However, the central performances of Swank and Rossum were so effective that empathetic audiences will be moved, maybe even to tears.