A Well-Written Drama That Tugs At The Heartstrings
The wise Marcus Aurelius once said “Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back.” It’s a profound quote and one that reinforces that, sooner or later, death will come for each and every one of us. It’s the one thing we all have in common and something that strikes fear in many people’s hearts. For others, this is just another step in the wonderful journey of life we take and whatever lies beyond will be shared by everyone.
The weeks and months before death however can be incredibly difficult. When it comes to cancer, this nasty disease can destroy every part of your life, withering away your skin, your health, your very essence of what makes you… you.
Many of us will have known or seen a loved one die of cancer and it’s certainly not an easy thing to go through. Based on a true story, Notes for My Son is an Argentinean movie about just that. The woman in question here is Maria, a strong-willed woman married to Federico and raising a beautiful son called Tomy.
Instead of falling into despair and self-pity, Marie’s uplifting and nonchalant attitude as she’s wheeled into hospital inspires everyone around her. The hospital room she’s stuck in regularly sings to the tune of laughter and the entire time there’s a constant feel of “Que sera, sera,” easing those who come to see her into just interacting like she’s there and not seeing the illness she’s facing.
In a bid to pass on her thoughts and ideas before she goes, Marie starts writing a notebook to her son. Juxtaposing this story though comes the main conflict in the movie, and this comes in the form of the doctors and nurses. With echoes of Robin William’s Patch Adams, the doctors remain bound by paperwork and treat the illness rather than the person.
There’s numerous instances of Marie rejecting morphine but the doctors remaining adamant to pump her full of it to ease her pain. Of course, that’s not to tar all of these health professionals with the same brush, but here it feels like a deliberate message to show how the hospital system can wear people down and turn these patients into statistics rather than individuals.
The crux of the issue here though comes from a potential terminal sedation and exactly where and when to administer this for Marie. It’s something that Fede has a real problem coming to terms with and while Marie remains optimistic in the face of death, he struggles to deal with the ramifications of this.
In fact, these varying conflicted emotions are something that strings most of the movie together, and while the screenplay is predictable and tugs on the heartstrings at all the right moments, there’s enough in this movie to make it an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
Notes For My Son is a well-written drama about the effects of cancer and our own perception on death. It may be predictable but it’s a moving picture all the same.