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Review of You Don't Know Jack

Al Pacino can seemingly do it all. From playing hard-nosed gangsters or dedicated cops to his Shakespeare adaptations, he now very convincingly plays Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who took it upon himself to aid some 130 suffering people in ending their own lives. It is an HBO television production directed by Barry Levinson but it could easily have been a theatrical film. The film starts out with his first patient, a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which he helps end her life out of his van in the woods due to inconvenient circumstances. There are several other incurable patients who are shown ending their lives and are all quite effective. (And to his credit there are other patients who are shown that Kevorkian denied assistance because he felt that their situations were not dire enough to die for.) One assisted suicide in particular which was quite distressing to watch involves a military veteran who is forced to go through a humiliating process Kevorkian had to use in order to save on the poisonous gas which he needed to use for other patients since it was denied to him. Throughout the film the argument is made about human rights and how even at this period in time we are denied the right to choose in how and when we die. If we are stricken with a debilitating and incurable disease we are essentially forced to endure its suffering until we are literally left all but brain dead and a loved one comes along and "pulls the plug". Dr. Kevorkian argues, why not let these people make the decision for themselves and end their own suffering? I myself do agree with various aspects of this moral choice, but to end your life when it may be possible to find a cure or if your illness can go into some kind of remission, I tend to have a problem with that. But I have never been in the situation that these people were faced with so I can't fully answer that question. But the film goes to show that Kevorkian did have a purpose behind what he was doing, whether it was good or bad or right or wrong. Also as a side note, I ended up watching this movie the night before Dr. Kevorkian died which was eerie enough, but after reading more about him upon his death it only demonstrated how spot-on the story, the characters and Pacino's portrayal was. Even Kevorkian's love of Bach and how it inspired him. So this definitely came out as an above average television production.

Added by Shaun
8 years ago on 5 June 2011 17:28