For my dad’s 50th birthday, my sister and I did a videotape interview of him. We wanted to capture what he was like, his story, any words of wisdom, and just preserve a general sense of the man who raised us so that he could leave a legacy for his grandkids. Because we never know how much time we have left on this earth, to be with our love ones, and we never want to take that time for granted.

In the same vein, Two Weeks follows what happens when a group of siblings come together to watch their mother, Anita Bergman (Sally Fields) die from ovarian cancer over the aforementioned time span. The various family tensions that bubble up, the sibling rivalries, the dealing with impending grief, and pulling together as a family. Though I loathe the term “dramedy”, that is what the movie aims to be, though it has too little of the comedy and the drama is done with the subtlety of an intense afterschool special.

“You can’t problem solve your way out of this one.” –Anita

The dying process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) is an individual matter. Terminal illness completely takes over daily living and normality seems to cease. Months of agonized waiting, treatments, and resignation tinged with anger (at the body’s betrayal, at having to depend on others, at being a burden). Feelings of fear (of loneliness, of the unknown) and anticipatory grief over loss (of friends, self-control, identity) mix, and contradict, with feelings of hope, determination, and acceptance.

They face the loss of integrity as an individual, which in one of the most painful forms of suffering we experience. This loss of dignity leads to feeling isolated and lonely as the disease progresses. This is the reality of dying. That very reality, the realization of our brief time on t this earth should lead to some weighty reflection.

“Mom’s dying. That’s what religion is for.” –Emily (Julianne Nicholson)

The tone of Anita and her family’s lives changed as they realized how precious their time together was. Petty bickering and even the internal familial stress of caring for the dying are put aside as well as put into perspective as the whole family has to struggle to come to terms with the painful reality of saying goodbye.

Death is the one enemy that can’t be beaten and can’t be thwarted, at least not by running from it or trying to out-maneuver it. Dying reflects our ultimate lack of control. Yet even in the embers of life, we find meaning in the support system we have built with our life, the relationships we have forged. Like how family and friendship are beautiful forms of love, providing genuine opportunities for our need for intimacy to be met and serve as a protection against isolation and loneliness.

“There’s an instruction manual … it’s too bad no one ever comes back and tells these guys if they got it right.” –Keith (Ben Chaplin)

Death may be our ultimate destination, the great nothing that awaits us all, however, it isn’t the end. A verse in the book of Isaiah (25:8) tells us that “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.” If nothing else, we know that we were created as relational beings and that we live in the context of family. And with them we have and leave a legacy of love.

It must be that time of year for downer personal movies. Like Self-Medicated grew out of the personal experience of its writer/director, in this case, Steve Stockman. For such a universally relatable topic, the movie falls rather flat. There are a couple of clever bits—the playing cards for left over meds, the redefining of the phrase “blow me”—none of which manages to save the movie. Sadly, the movie lacked a spark, any intense performance this type of movie is especially suited for, without which it seemed interminable. Instead of grief, we’re left with indifference. Two Weeks felt so much like true life random family moments, your time would be just as well spent calling together a family dinner. And enjoying what time you have left with them.

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