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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dying Young (released in 1991) - Starring Julia Roberts, Campbell Scott and Vincent D'Onofrio

Based on a book of the same name, written by Marti Leimbach, Dying Young was directed by Joel Schumacher, and released in 1991. This romantic comedy, before its release, was pinned as one of the biggest blockbusters to release in the summer of 1991. However, after its release all it got was negative reviews. The star cast included Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott among others.
The movie opens with Hilary (played by Julia Roberts) making it plenty clear that she has next to no luck in the love and work department. Having broken up with her cheating boyfriend, Hilary, who now lives with her mother (played by Ellen Burstyn) decides to answer an ad in the papers, for an attractive woman with little (or no) work experience. Dressed in a red miniskirt, she decides to go try her luck for this job.
Without even an interview she gets selected to take care of a young man, who is shown to be battling leukemia. Donned with the duty of taking care of Victor Geddes (played by Campbell Scott) who is a 28 year old, rich and well educated man, Hilary becomes his live-in caretaker. However, she isn’t sure whether she is up for the task especially after having seen his reactions to chemotherapy. But, obviously she rises to the challenge, reads up on leukemia and tries to be a better homemaker/caretaker.
Over time, it is shown that Victor’s chemotherapy is complete and the two head down to the coast, where Victor has yet another home. All this while, Victor’s father hasn’t been given a strong role. He is shown to be indifferent at the most. The happy couple continues to live on the coast where their relationship evolves to love, all the while Victor doesn’t share with Hilary the fact that he has been taking morphine to hide the pain and that his chemo hasn’t actually been completed.

However, during one dinner party with friends, when Victor acts aggressively and later collapses on the floor, Hilary rummages through the garbage and finds the syringes. She confronts Victor and finds out the truth. She calls up Victor’s father and tells him everything. He promises to pick up Victor in the morning and take him to the hospital. Hilary and Victor have another talk, and Victor convinces Hilary that he will go back but wants to stay for one more party. Hilary agrees and goes to call Victor’s father to let him know, only to come back and find Victor packing his back in order to flee.
Yet another confrontation and “supposed to be” emotional declarations of how Victor has lost hope and Hilary loves Victor, take place. Hilary however finally convinces him to fight and get back to his chemotherapy. The movie closes with the two of them walking out of Victor’s house to go to the hospital.
Although nobody actually dies in the movie (young or old), the characters and their constant dribble of self-pity does make the audience die a little bit inside. The plot has a vague similarity to Pretty Woman, but without the fun elements or Julia Roberts contagious and vivacious attitude. While the movie is about a young man, his relation with his caretaker, and how they fall in love while he learns valuable life lessons from her; it fails to create the same warmth and humor as Pretty Woman.
Since Campbell Scott fails to generate any warmth or sympathy for his character, it would be wrong to blame Julia Roberts for lacking humor and vibrancy. The filmmaking itself is not too great, with dramatic effects being thrown in, without actually being seen through. Overall, the movie got negative reviews and after painfully sitting through more than one and half hours of this movie, one can understand why.

Dying Young (released in 1991) - Starring Julia Roberts, Campbell Scott and Vincent D'Onofrio

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