Movie review - "Dying Young"

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Dying Young (1991) - Review by Shiksa Kelly Ravelli

I recently decided to revisit this film after watching it several years ago and enjoying it. And you know what? It's still a pretty good, solid film.
Julia Roberts plays Hillary O'Neill, a street smart, independent young woman who finds herself jobless and boyfriendless within one disastrous day. She makes the trek from Oakland to San Francisco to answer a WANTED ad for a live-in caregiver/nurse to a young man with leukemia. The young man turns out to be Victor Geddes, played by Campbell Scott, who placed the ad without the knowledge of his wealthy attorney father (David Selby). Through a series of events, Hillary becomes Victor's caregiver and the two opposites in economic status and personality form a bond as friends and eventually fall in love.
The one thing that really struck me (in a good way) about the movie was that the relationship between the two leads was nicely developed because it progressed the way two people would fall in love in the real world. Something very difficult to accomplish in the cinema, especially a world in which movie audiences with ADD expect action every five minutes. There are scenes in which Victor, having just received a round of chemotherapy, becomes violently ill and Hillary has to attend to him, and it's surprisingly powerful. Anyone who has had to give 24/7 care to a loved one who is ill can identify with Hillary as she goes from feelings of helplessness to finding a strength and hope that eventually becomes Victor's strength and hope.
As for Mr. Selby's role in the movie, it's really very small (I think he only gets about 5 minutes of screen time in the 2 hour running time) but he does so much with it. When he's first seen on screen, the audience is given the impression that he is a cold, distant figure to his son, and appeases Victor by supporting his interest in art, surrounding him with wealth and having servants cater to his every need. But as the movie progresses and in one of the last scenes of the film that he shares with Campbell Scott, Mr. Selby is able to convey the feelings of a father who may be distant but no less loving and caring than any other parent. To take a minor role just as Falcon Crest had come to an end was a very brave decision and Mr. Selby does a great job and makes a lasting impression with the limited screen time he's given.
I also must mention that while the first half of the movie is set in San Francisco, the second half of the movie was shot on location in the beautiful oceanside town of Mendocino, California. It's the perfect small, scenic town where everybody knows everybody yet you can still have some privacy and get away from the hustle and bustle of an overpopulated city. Colleen Dewhurst (the real life mother of Campbell Scott) excels in what would, sadly, be one of her final roles as a friendly Mendocino winery owner with 3 deceased husbands buried in her hedge maze.
If you want to see superb acting by Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott and you're a fan of love stories with depth and heart (and you're a fan of David Selby), check it out and have a box of Kleenex next to you, just to be on the safe side.

review @2012 by Shiksa Kelly Ravelli

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