20 February 2015 | JvH48
Commendable attempt to highlight issues around life and death (euthanasia) by means of three parallel story lines that each focuses on a different situation
I saw this film at the Film Fest Ghent 2014, where it was part of the official Global Cinema selection. It presents several intertwined stories revolving around issues of live and death, and especially whether we are allowed to interfere. Each story zooms in on a different situation with a pending decision about the merits of continuing life when there is no hope for the future, be it an endless coma or endless addiction or endless pain. The three parallel story lines make the movie interesting, by highlighting various possible situations where this can be relevant. It allows different sides of the dilemma's to be brought forward. It is a pity that not all life-or-death choices get the same amount of focus around the final decision making, in particular we are not always in the clear how difficult it was to reach a decision, or do we know all the reasons why it was indefinitely postponed.
A lot of attention was devoted to a member of parliament who was prepared to risk his career when deviating from the party line in defense for euthanasia under circumstances. He maintained his stance in spite of being pressured several times that he should not forget who (the party) gave him the position he had. Important for us to know is that he had his own experience with these issues. In the past he had ended the sickbed of his wife on her request. Actually, we saw him switching off the life support equipment. It's a pity that this scene was rather sketchy. We saw his wife asking for it, very possibly for the umpteenth time, but he may also have acted on impulse as far as we know. Thus we'll never know how long and how hard he struggled with the dilemma. His daughter supported an opposite opinion, and we see how it kept them on a distance for some time. Luckily, in the end of the movie she reads the speech he had prepared to explain his deviating vote in parliament. We observed a glimpse of mutual understanding. In other words, there is a chance that she will get a better feeling for his point of view. This was the final scene; a definite change of her mind is left open ended.
Also a lot of attention was devoted to Eluano's family, a well known case that was heavily debated in Italy. The impact of her 17 years lasting coma, with all the public discussions around her, was showing on all members of the household. Especially her parents had opposite views on the matter, but both hesitated to take definitive action either way. We saw of lot of visitors insisting on praying for Eluano to keep her on life support, and we saw similar praying sessions elsewhere, all of these along the religious view lines on the matter, and particularly against any action to terminate her life. Such a continuous influence cannot fail to leave a lasting impression, even knowing that it is very easy for outsiders to take a formalistic stand in this, not seeing the daily struggle of the parents.
A side note: We were lucky that we did not have to endure Berlusconi in action. We only saw him on TV a few times but for short moments. And he was mentioned several times. For instance, there was a lot of signage outside the hospital where his help was called upon to prevent Eluano from being "murdered" (not my words).
All in all, though a commendable attempt to involve us in relevant discussions about the subject at hand, the movie failed halfway. This is mostly due to the scenario trying to entertain three parallel story lines while failing to maintain an even balance when showing the dilemma's and the decision making within the respective stories. Further, I was a bit confused at first, as it was not clear upfront who was who, what their connection was with the subject of euthanasia, and how they related to each other. After seeing this film, I cannot imagine that anyone has changed his of her mind. Nevertheless, it may serve as an opening for discussion in a group of people with an interest in the matter. I think that to be the primary merit of this movie. Everyone can easily recognize their own dilemma's, and thereby identify themselves with the central theme.