This is an excellent film about the person behind an infamous moment in US television history. It’s a drama with a great sense of place, an excellent cast and a really strong lead performance. I recommend you watch it but I also recommend that if you are interested in watching this film and don’t know what incident I’m talking about, you try not to learn about it. (I realized what it was about only in the scenes before the climax, so it was effectively a surprise for me.)
So there is an excellent sense of place, everything feels very ’70s Florida. I always find a strong sense of place to be a crucial component in period dramas as when this isn’t handled well, it’s something that undercuts other things, such as good performances. Anyway, I just wanted to mention it because it’s one of the many things about this movie that is really well done.
I like how when we meet her, her life seems perfect: she’s a competent and passionate (and ambitious) reporter, she volunteers at the Children’s Hospital – if anything her life is too perfect. But it’s not presented as sunshine and roses, merely just her daily life.
But as we follow her through her life, we see that things are not what they seem. And now
Pretty massive SPOILERS
The film does a good job showing how nobody knew how to handle mental health issues at the time. (I like to think we’re a little better now.) And even the one person who does seem to have some idea of how to handle them isn’t the right person for her. The film does an excellent job of showing how delicate this all is for some people. and how a few chance interactions might change her life.
I also like how the film deals with her cancer: the doctor can’t even say the word. (Funnily enough, I just finished a book where they talked about the historical phenomenon of doctors being unwilling to call cancer “cancer”.) And the whole scene gives you a really good idea why someone in her shoes would not want to deal with something like this.
Anyway, it’s an excellent film that was made more excellent for me because I didn’t realize what it was about until the last 15 or 20 minutes. If you know what’s coming, your feeling is probably different.