Look Back: You’re Not You

I knew nothing of this movie, and I’m in tears after watching it! I’m not going to go into the movie as a whole, but as usual, I’ve picked out a few things I think is worth mentioning about this movie. In a single summary sentence: This movie is about relationships the revolve around ALS. With no further ado, ***Warning: Spoiler Alert. If you haven’t seen the movie and/or plan on watching it, stop reading now.***

First relationship: Evan & Kate, husband and wife; portrayed by Josh Duhamel and Hilary Swank.

He’s a successful, hardworking guy, and she was successful in her own right before ALS claimed her body. Post-ALS, Evan became Kate’s caretaker, and you can say he lost sight of his role as husband when the physical aspect of the relationship was taken away from them. Yes, he ended up cheating on Kate, but as he tried to explain it: He didn’t do it because he missed the physical activity of intimacy, but he missed just being touched by another person. A hug, a handshake, the act of holding hands, a tickle… everything get taken away by ALS.

A part of me felt really sorry for Evan because, though he cheated on Kate, you could tell he genuinely still loved her to the point that he cracked and shattered when it came down to seeing his wife so weak and on her deathbed yet he still honored her final wish. While I couldn’t forgive him for doing what he did, I cried for him in the end, as he admitted out loud that he couldn’t bare to watch Kate suffer and die (which is what she chose to do), thus removing himself from the situation.

Second relationship: Bec & Kate, caregiver & patient turn friends; Bec played by Emmy Rossum

Kate gave a lost, helium-filled head, rebel-without-a-cause college kid a chance, and in the end, she helped Bec find her meaning, her voice, and her sense of self. The relationship started off rocky as all get out, but throughout the movie, you get to watch the struggle, the epiphany, and the beautiful bond these two have. It’s a powerful relationship, and as a young adult, I felt every emotion under the sun when Bec struggled to help Kate on the first day, as she didn’t know how to do anything in the kitchen and in the bathroom; became Kate’s voice when ALS became taking her lungs and speech away; and grew into a more steadfast woman when her parents showed up at Kate’s house.

Bec’s transformation from a seemingly nutty lost cause into an experienced, knowledgeable woman was awe-inspiring. I still don’t know if I’d actually give someone like her a chance when it comes to caregiving, but it worked… on the big screen.

Third relationship: John & Marilyn, husband & wife; portrayed by Ernie Hudson and Loretta Devine

These two rocked my world during the movie. Marilyn’s opening line: “You’re one of us, ain’tcha? I knew it. I was right. I know when someone’s like me.” My favorite “first scene” moment of hers was when she invited Kate and Bec to get high with her and John. *laughs* As she later tells Kate and Bec: “ALS may have taken my legs, my arms, my lungs, but it can never take my soul.” She showed Kate that one can always have fun, no matter how bad things get. A part of me was angry that Evan didn’t meet John. I bet if they met, Evan wouldn’t have done what he did.

John and Marilyn had such a loving relationship, and though she relied on him for everything, she still had a sense of individualism that the banter and energy between husband and wife was still very much seen and felt in their scenes together.

You’re Not You shook me inside out, and Hilary Swank knocked another very challenging and difficult role out of the park. She’s such a powerful and convincing (for lack of words) actress that I was in pain watching her convulse, choke, and finally die at the end of the movie. She definitely doesn’t have a fear of dying when she takes on roles, and she doesn’t mind dying realistically either. ALS can have such a violent and painful ending, and Swank captured it for me that I prayed after the movie ended that not all those claimed by ALS die the way her character, Kate, did. It was painful to watch and listen to.

Overall, You’re Not You is not your usual drama movie. It’s a portrayal of what families living with ALS could end up having to live with. The deterioration of the body, the relationships that break and those that bloom…. It’s not a medical condition that can be easily controlled or fixed with a surgery. It’s a brutal reality that needs to patience and understanding from everyone, family and general population.

I give You’re Not You 4 out of 5 clappers:

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(a) Honest portrayal of ALS
(b) Strong cast
(c) Emotionally driven story
(d) Capturing multiple personalities and tying everything back to main character

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