Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Movie Review - Lorenzo's Oil

Lorenzo's Oil
You may notice that I haven't reviewed very many movies here. My husband and I rarely get the chance to watch movies, even at home. By the time we get our kids in bed, even if we don't have some urgent pressing project it is usually too late in the day for us to consider beginning a full length movie, especially given that most mornings we have to get up early and start all over again. It's just a fact of where we're at right now. When we do get to watch a movie I feel guilty putting a movie in that's "just for me." Lorenzo's Oil definitely fit that description. I've been wanting to watch it again ever since I started blogging. I think the mere fact that my husband got into the movie almost as much as I did is in itself high praise. I first saw the film ca. 1994 while studying organic chemistry at Berkeley. I watched the movie with some fellow graduate students and we were all challenged by the strength of the characters presented in this story. Little did I know what inspiration they would later provide to me. There are so many facets to this story that I will explore several different related topics in the next several posts.

This movie came out in 1992 and depicts the true story of Lorenzo Michael Murphy Odone and his parents. Lorenzo's father, Augusto Odone (Nic Nolte), and mother Michaela Odone (Susan Sarandon) refuse to give up the search for a treatment or cure for their son's devastating metabolic disorder, adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). They begin as many parents of special needs parents by seeking a diagnosis to explain Lorenzo's degenerating motor skills and behavioral issues. They take him to one of the world's foremost experts but bypass the slow lane of medical research and through their own study determine a course of treatment that eventually helps other boys with the same diagnosis avoid the cascade that leaves Lorenzo dependent on round the clock medical care for his every breath. They are able to arrest Lorenzo's "inevitable" decline and, though the movie was produced when he was fourteen, he far outlived the original prognosis of death by age 8 by surviving to age 30. He is survived by his father.

The cinematography in the movie is stunning and of highest quality. There are highly dramatic scenes that left me fighting back tears, or just letting them flow. The emotional roller coaster of confusion, assurance, despair, determination, disappointment, guilt, love, joy, and perseverance are beautifully depicted. There appear to be some minor variations from the "true" storyline to heighten the drama of the movie, but the overall parents' quest to support, cherish and cure their son is well documented.

I invite you to go deeper into this story with me in the next few posts, but for now I highly recommend viewing this film if you haven't already...and maybe even if you have.


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