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After she discovers that her boyfriend has betrayed her, Hilary O'Neil is looking for a new start and a new job. She begins to work as a private nurse for a young man suffering from blood cancer.
For more about Dying Young and the Dying Young Blu-ray release, see Dying Young Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Julia Roberts, Campbell Scott, Vincent D'Onofrio, Colleen Dewhurst, David Selby, Ellen Burstyn
Director: Joel Schumacher
» See full cast & crew
Dying Young Blu-ray Review
Can love survive leukemia?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 23, 2013
Even the title screams "tearjerker." Dying Young is certainly one of those movie that even the most stout of viewers might find requires a tissue or two, and those more prone to wild emotional swings and easy cinema manipulation are certain to fall to pieces. But the film does find a balance in its hopefulness and deeply emotional and energetic story of budding romance in the shadow of a crumbling life. Director Joel Schumacher's (Batman Forever, Phone Booth) film offers an emotionally even-keeled story of life, with its highest of highs of true love found and the growth that comes with that flirting with the ever-present danger of dropping to the lowest of lows. The specter of death -- of physical death and, thereby, romantic death -- looms large, the fear of the broken heart nearly as unpalatable an outcome as a permanently broken life. It's not a profound movie on the human condition, but Schumacher paints a vivid picture of the triumph of the heart in the midst of the tragedies of a frail body; it's just a question of which can outlast the other.
Hilary O'Neil (Julia Roberts) is a 23-yer-old San Franciscan who has just walked out on her cheating boyfriend. While looking for work, she comes across a newspaper ad calling for an attractive young nurse to care for a wealthy man. Though she's outright rejected for the position moments after the interview begins, she's hurriedly called back when the man who placed the ad, a twenty-something Leukemia patient named Victor Geddes (Campbell Scott), demands a full interview. Hilary is hired even without experience as a caregiver. Though she loses her composure after Victor's first chemotherapy session -- he transforms from a confident young man to a terribly frail and sickly patient -- she vows to stay on and help, to clean up his act by removing junk food, tobacco, and even pornography from his life and replace it all with healthy living foods and anti-cancer home remedies. Slowly, the two develop a bond that grows into something deeper and more intimate. Can their relationship withstand the rigors of cancer and the very real possibility that Victor's life may be cut drastically short?
There's a hint of the role of fate and how it guides life that runs throughout the movie, but it's more of the notion of fate seized and recognized rather than squandered, unseen, or misidentified. Dying Young's story of coming together is one largely of chance, of faith, and certainly somewhat on superficial attraction, but those are all components of the sort of fate that brings two lives together and, along the way, helps make the people on both sides whole. The film is outwardly difficult to watch and will make viewers something of an emotional wreck, at times, but it's also goodhearted and quite uplifting at the same time with a story centered on how good may rise from even the worst situations and scenarios, how not even illness or even the possibility of death can break a connection or disturb a bond built on mutual compassion and understanding. Joel Schumacher, who seems more capable of building emotionally driven Human Dramas rather than fluffy and overly colorful Action films -- think Falling Down and A Time to Kill as examples of his better work -- gently but assuredly pulls the most from the story, balancing it out by accentuating the emotions rather than either overlaying them or pushing them further away from the core than they need to be. His Dying Young succeeds at building its characters and making them real people in a real relationship developing a real love that's fueled by real emotions, real joy, and real hurt. It's not hollywood sappy but genuinely honest, and those high and low emotional swings, then, feel much more natural than manipulative.
Dying Young gets quite a bit right in director style and vision and its fundamentally sound romance, but it's the cast that really brings the film towards excellence. Campbell Scott is nothing short of fantastic as the Leukemia-striken Victor. There's a remarkable transformation from rather bubbly and confident pre-chemo personality to the hopelessly ill post-chemo treatment individual. The shift is jarring, not unexpected but performed remarkably well and handled with an understanding of the film's tone and where it's headed. Scott brings the most emotionally wrecking moments to the film but counters them with the most uplifting, too, particularly at the film's most tender spot once the relationship develops and the character settles into it. Roberts is bubbly and charming but also finds a deeper, more personal performance as the situation warrants. At times, she's nearly superficially indistinguishable from the character she played in Pretty Woman -- recapturing the same fidgety mannerisms, the same shy glimpses, even keeping the same hairstyle -- but she does her best to match the depth and character development Scott so brilliantly portrays, even as she's understandably sometimes a bit lost behind his screen-commanding performance.
Dying Young Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dying Young's high definition transfer isn't spectacular, but it's a rather good-looking, film-like, lightly grainy image that handles the material well, particularly considering this is a two-decades-plus-old film and not provided any sort of major restoration. Anchor Bay's transfer reveals steady, consistent details that show off fair facial and clothing textures. Clarity is fine and the image appears only lightly soft. Colors are stable, though perhaps a bit pale and dulled. There's nothing vibrant here, but the palette is at least steady and never overly dim. Black levels are adequate, generally, with only minor crush evident, and flesh tones only push gently towards a reddish shade. There are a myriad of minor issues to report. Subtle edge halos are visible from time to time. There's also light background banding and slightly troublesome color transitions across shadowy faces. There's a bit of minor wear and tear in the way of spots and splotches. The transfer is no miracle amongst catalogue transfers, but fans should be satisfied with the overall presentation.
Dying Young Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Dying Young arrives on Blu-ray with an adequate Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. As one might expect of an older, dramatically and romantically oriented title, there's not significant range or attention to detail in the track. Musical clarity suffices, as does front-end spacing, but there's little in the way of full or aggressive surround support. The track finds a bit of a more aggressive posture in a dance club in chapter five, enjoying a fuller, more energized sound environment. However, bass isn't very pronounced. General environmental ambience is light, with background din at a bar one of the better moments in the track. Dialogue usually comes through clearly from the center, though there's a hint of shallowness to it on a few occasions. Otherwise, the track gets listeners through the film without much flash.
Dying Young Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dying Young contains no extras, and no menu is included. The film begins playback immediately after disc insertion. Optional English SDH subtitles must be switched on or off in-film with the remote control.
Dying Young Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Keep the tissues nearby, but also expect more than runny eyes and a snotty nose. Dying Young in some ways defines the "tearjerker" but it's also a much more delicately balanced film about life, love, fate, and finding a reason to go on, to really live, even under the constant threat of imminent pain -- physical and emotional pain both -- and perhaps death. It's a well crafted, smartly written, and strongly acted film that's one of the better of its kind. Anchor Bay's featureless Blu-ray offers solid video and decent audio. Recommended.
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