Monday, November 17, 2003

REVIEW: The Event

Seen Sunday, 16 November 2003, at the Brattle Theater (Eye Opener series)

* ¾ (out of four)

I'll admit it - it just might not be possible for me to enjoy a pro-suicide movie. Especially one, like The Event, that exists to exalt assisted suicide. Even if I were in Matt Shapiro's position, dying of AIDS and not responding to treatment, I couldn't imagine killing myself, because a cynical (or is that optimistic?) part of me would just know that some kind of breakthrough would be announced the next day, and how stupid would I look then? And assisted suicide? That's putting the people you love, care about, and trust into ethically and legally precarious positions so that you can avoid responsibility one last time.

But even if I agreed with this film, I don't think I'd like it. Although writer/director Thom Fitzgerald peppers it with some amusing black humor, he has made an "issue movie" which neither engages in debate nor makes anything close to a strong argument for its cause. It portarys Shapiro (Don McKellar) as a saint, and his mother (Olympia Dukakis) even refers to him at one point as a "hero", akin to a police officer who died in the line of duty.

The woman she makes this observation to is Nick (Parker Posey), an assistant district attorney investigating Shapiro's death (the "goodbye party" which precedes it is the "event" of the title), along wtih a number of other apparent assisted suicides who were all connected to the same doctor (Brent Carver). Nick could have been an interesting ethical counterpoint, someone who believes life is precious and feels that the willingness to end another's life erodes respect for life in general. But, instead, she's just working the case because it's the law and upholding the law is her job, even apologizing to the doctor at one point.

I'm not sure where my disagreeing with this movie ends and where my disliking it begins. I think the filmmaker is so certain of the rightness of he beliefs that he didn't allow any conflict or drama in, and that in the end the film (and the audience) suffers for it.

No comments: