Set during 1984, the Academy Award-nominated 'Lorenzo's Oil' is based on the real-life case of parents Augusto and Michaela Odone who dedicate themselves to finding a treatment for their son's ALD, of which little was known about at the time, and for which no form of therapy existed. 'Lorenzo's Oil' doesn't shy away from portraying the heart-wrenching suffering of the five-year-old titular character as he's ravaged by a rare degenerative brain disease that slowly deprives him of his faculties. It's this unflinching depiction by director George Miller, himself trained as a physician, coupled with fantastic performances by Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon as Lorenzo's parents, that make Miller's 1992 effort all the more effective. It's a terrific tearjerker of a film, and it's our free movie pick of the day.
Set during 1984, the Academy Award-nominated 'Lorenzo's Oil' is based on the real-life case of parents Augusto and Michaela Odone who dedicate themselves to finding a treatment for their son's ALD, of which little was known about at the time, and for which no form of therapy existed.
The Odones refuse to accept the medical establishment's wisdom that nothing can be done for their 5-year-old son's condition and that he is doomed to die within two years. Taking the search for therapy into their own hands, they set about teaching themselves biochemistry and eventually hit upon a mixture of plant oils with the promise of halting the progression of the disease.
Nolte is spectacular when he goes on a frenzied tear to absorb as much information on the disease as he can from books, doctors, researchers and scientists. Obsession is visible in his every action. And Sarandon simultaneously manages to convey a fierce determination toward healing her ailing son, as well as a deep, paralyzing guilt since the disease is genetically passed from mother to child.
Criticism has arisen since the movie's release on the effectiveness of the treatment discovered by the Odones and whether its effects are exaggerated in the film, but Miller's work nevertheless serves as both a fine medical mystery, and a poignant example of a mother and father's ceaseless efforts to ease the suffering of their child.
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