Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
“Dying Young” is a long, slow slog of a movie, up to its knees in drippy self-pity as it marches wearily toward its inevitable ending. And when I describe the ending as inevitable, by that I do not mean that the hero of “Dying Young” actually dies young. The movie doesn't have that much imagination.
Julia Roberts stars as Hilary, a young woman from Oakland, Calif., who answers a classified ad with a Nob Hill address in San Francisco. The ads calls for a “young and attractive” woman with “some” nursing experience, and as the young and attractive woman trudges up Nob Hill in her red miniskirt, we get the feeling that two days as a candy striper might be enough experience.
We are correct. Roberts is hired by young Victor Geddes (Campbell Scott), who has been battling leukemia half of his life and needs someone to help him get through his next course in chemotherapy. Roberts takes the job, and as her patient vomits and shivers and writhes in pain, she helps the best she can. At first she fears she's not equal to the task, but she is, of course, and eventually the two slip away and rent a cottage in northern California, where they fall in love while he enjoys a remission.
Their love is not, however, a great romantic saga; “Love Story” was a substantially better version of the same story. One of the problems is that Victor is a drip: a whiny, manipulative martyr with the kind of flat, husky voice I always associate with Henry the serial killer. Hilary is also a little out of focus. As played by Roberts, she knows all the words but we never hear the music. Even the big dramatic moments are curiously muted, and people are forever disappearing into shadows (one of Victor's exits looks stolen directly from “The Phantom of the Opera”).