It seems that films showcasing sickness are in rude health.
There’s never been a better time to get sick on screen. Recently our cinemas have been taken over by a glut of films about illness, including the critically acclaimed titles The Fault in Our Stars, The Theory of Everything, Still Alice and Amour. There’s more to come, with discussion already beginning online about the forthcoming teen-cancer flick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which received a standing ovation when it premiered at this year’s Sundance Festival. Disease, it would seem, is en vogue.
Of course, films about illness are nothing new. Tear-jerkers like My Sister’s Keeper, A Walk to Remember andStepmom have long entertained us with their sentimental take on terminal illness. When talking about films concerning terminal illness the term ‘spoiler’ doesn’t really apply, for obvious reasons. The plots therefore follow a reasonably predictable arc: a loved individual discovers that they have an incurable disease, and their family struggle to support them until their actual or assumed demise. These films excite our sympathies, arouse our compassion and even remind us of our own vulnerability; it could be me, my sister, my mother, my beloved. They also give us a chance for emotional release and the hope of life beyond grief. Often we see the surviving characters moving on, making peace with the world and finding a way to live again beyond their loss.