A Woman Like Me full movie review - "Any one of us could die today. Are you ready to go?"
A filmmaker with metastatic breast cancer looks for ways to take care of herself as the disease hastens her death.
Along the way the writer-director, Alex Sichel, creates an alter ego (played by Lili Taylor) who "has this disease but is moving forward...It's my way of trying to figure out what's going on."
One definitely sympathizes with the protagonist here, who ponders cancer's implacable odds -- "85% curable (but only) 2% when it's already spread."
A search of the Internet revealed that Alex died in June 2014, after a three-year struggle with the disease, leaving her husband Erich and young daughter Anastasia.
If I understood this film correctly, Alex didn't want 7-year-old Anastasia to know she had the disease. And her husband seemed all too aware of her scourge as well as her efforts to self-soothe through aspects of Buddhism. ("It's hard to live with someone who's living in a cult.")
I saw this documentary at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Denver, where it was screened for psychology instructors who might consider showing it in class.
We learn much about coping with a major stressor as we follow Alex from the stark and cold examining rooms of Manhattan to pristine, snowy stretches of upstate New York where her spiritual practice leads her, and even to the earthy, Greek village of her forbears. But wherever Alex goes, cancer isn't far from her mind.
"I feel like my whole family is living in shock -- the haziness of not knowing what to do with this."
As much as I enjoyed the performance of Ms. Taylor, I wasn't sure her parallel experiences added much to the narrative. In the end, the counterpoint story seemed a little gimmicky.
On viewing this film, one is struck with the enormous good fortune and relief of being able to live one's life without a sword of Damocles dangling overhead.
Rest in peace, Alex. I appreciate your efforts.