Review: You’re Not You (2014)

Directed by: George C. Wolfe | 103 minutes | drama | Actors: Hilary Swank, Emmy Rossum, Josh Duhamel, Stephanie Beatriz, Julian McMahon, Jason Ritter, Ali Larter, Andrea Savage, Mike Doyle, Gerald Downey, Ernie Hudson, Loretta Devine, Erin Chenoweth, Gareth Williams, Loretta Devine, Marcia Gay Harden , Frances Fisher, Ed Begley Jr.

“And I nominate my sister and my best friend to do the same.” How many times have we heard this phrase on social media in the summer of 2014 after someone poured a bucket of ice water over them? The Ice Bucket Challenge sparked a worldwide awareness of ALS, an often fatal muscle disease. Hilary Swank suffers from ALS in the film drama “You’re Not You”.

Classical pianist Kate and her husband Evan live in a beautiful modern house, they both have good jobs and are trying to have a child. When Kate notices while cooking that she cannot control her hands for a while, she visits her doctor. Because she is a gifted pianist, she wants to exclude everything. After a series of studies, the redeeming word comes with a sledgehammer impact: she suffers from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS.

Meanwhile, “rough shell, white pit” Bec leads a completely different life. She only just manages to make ends meet and often arrives at her temporary work unkempt and hungover after one night stands. The student is not so interested in life, but she will still have to earn money. She responds to an advertisement as a home help and steps into a world of home care. Fortunately for Kate, Bec has not proven to be a quitter and is undergoing her duties better and better along the way. Bec also helps her when Kate has to go to the toilet. The free-spirited and cheeky nature of her help is a relief for the critically ill Kate, because she lives her ever-shrinking world through the eyes, vocal cords and hands of Bec.

The relationship between Kate and Evan is under considerable tension when Evan only sees her as a patient. He bounces off any form of desire and warmth, much to Bec’s anger. Would he hold out any longer to watch his wife languish?

The attention given to ALS is beautifully supported in “You’re Not You”. Leading actress Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”) has learned very well about the decline caused by this disease. She builds up the failing functions very well, such as her degenerating ability to speak. It has been presented convincingly. The close friendship between the patient and the home help, played by Emmy Rossum (“The Day After Tomorrow”) is somewhat predictable, but the raw moments in which Bec has to assist Kate in everyday things are very moving. Do not confuse this film with “Intouchables”, because the black humor is less present than with the French blockbuster. Director George C. Wolfe makes viewers aware of the consequences of ALS and it is not inconceivable that “You’re Not You” will be awarded at the Academy Awards in February 2015.

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