Lorenzo's Oil Movie Review

Essay by Longfellow's Cousin September 1996

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Lorenzo's Oil is based on the true story of Augusto Odone (Nick Nolte) and his wife, Michaela (Susan Sarandon), as they fight to save the life and sanity of their son, Lorenzo (Zack O'Malley Greenburg). Lorenzo, was diagnosed in early 1984 as a victim of A.L.D. A.L.D. is an incurable disease in which the brain slowly deteriorates till the body is left totally immobilized, the disease was beyond the help of conventional medicine. His parents, unwilling to give up the struggle even after participating in several failed therapies, began their own investigation of the disease. Lorenzo's Oil follows the triumphs and tragedies of this search.

The film is unique in that it avoids becoming a tear-jerking soap opera. Instead of focusing solely on a family being torn apart by guilt and pain of the disease, Lorenzo's Oil follows Augusto and Michaela's struggle to understand their son's disease and discover a method of treatment to save their sons life.

The search is very complicated and intriguing, but with the help of simple metaphors, such as those of a kitchen sink and a chain of paper clips to represent the enzymes that affect Lorenzo, the viewer clearly understands the causes and effects of A.L.D.

The characters of Augusto and Michaela are developed successfully through the many scenes they are involved in. Lorenzo is less of a person than a element in the plot (we know little about him, except that he is a good-natured boy who has come down with a rare disease), and most of the characters in the film are as well-rounded as the story demands. The actors are suitable in their roles. Sarandon and Nolte have both given more effective performances in the past, and Nolte's Italian accent is hard to get used to. Only...