Friday, 26 August 2011

You Don't Know Jack, dir. Barry Levinson, wr. Adam Mazer, st. Al Pacino, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Danny Huston

Another piece of essential viewing from HBO - does their output produce anything else? - a TV movie from 2010 detailing the life of doctor Jack Kevorkian and his single-minded mission to open people's eyes to physician-assisted suicide, in his mind, a basic human right. If the bias is a little one-sided, I would counter that to a tree-hugging liberal such as myself, the waters weren't that murky to begin with, nevertheless, the subject of euthanasia remains a topic that remains, maybe not off-limits, but certainly taboo and controversial. This is probably the first time I've seen Autumnal Pacino displace his trademark shouty persona for something infinitely more humbling and subtle. Don't get me wrong, his Jack Kevorkian still has that old Corleone danger behind the eyes, dogged and determined, and utterly ruthless in his passion for what he believes is right, but it's a bit of a shock to see him white-haired and Armenian/Michigan accented, shuffling about in slippers, high-waisted slacks and seeming to have great difficulty in getting geese off his porch. Levinson displays remarkable sensitivity too, neither shying away from nor sensationalising the subject matter, and there's great support from Sarandon and Goodman. Whatever your moral or political views, I would suggest this is essential viewing; poignant and entirely compelling.