A review of “My Life Without Me” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for language and adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

 

 

Thought-provoking and a shade disturbing, “Life” is more than your average disease-of-the-week film.

Sarah Polley gives a contemplative performance as Ann, a young wife and mother who struggles with the news that a cancerous tumor in her abdomen (which she suspects is another pregnancy) gives her only a few months to live.  Rocked to her core, Ann makes a resolute decision to keep the knowledge to herself.

Focusing on her existence thus far, Ann creates a life to-do list.  All those niggling things she promised herself she’d get to.  Sex with a man other than her husband (and high school sweetheart) Don. Changing hairstyles, finding a new wife for Don, and creating a diary of audio tapes for her little girls to listen to on each one of their birthdays until age eighteen. Sob.

 A sanguine sensibility keeps the story on the up-and-up, keeping it from indulging in pity and despair.  Ann moves through her days with a gentle acceptance of her fate, and the hope that belief and perseverance will ensure a happy future for her loved-ones.

As a wife and mother myself, I found it difficult to reconcile with Ann’s choices.  Her chosen lover will be hurt, as will her husband and kids, perhaps indefinitely. But Polley exudes a steadfast joie-de-vivre that ultimately won me over.     

“Life” speaks volumes about an individual’s right to choose, and how one copes with the unspeakable heartbreak of a life cut tragically short.