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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Movie Review - Decoding Annie Parker

Decoding Annie Parker (2014)
Starring Samantha Morton, Helen Hunt, Aaron Paul, Alice Eve, Marley Shelton, Rashida Jones, Corey Stoll, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Schiff
Directed by Steven Bernstein
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Anyone who knows me knows my teenage infatuation with Helen Hunt.  Quite possibly the only teenager to fall for the Mad About You actress, Ms. Hunt still holds a special place in my heart.  And she's probably the only reason I even thought about watching Decoding Annie Parker.  Debut screenwriter-director Steven Bernstein's first feature film details the true story of Annie Parker (played by Samantha Morton), a Canadian wife and mother who has had her share of tragedy in life with multiple members of her family succumbing to breast cancer.  When she is told that she also has breast cancer, Annie sets off on a mission to learn all she can about the disease, trying to fight the then-popular opinion in the 1970s that there was no genetic familial connection.  In her research, Annie uncovers works by researcher Mary-Claire King (the aforementioned Hunt), one of the few scientists attempting to link breast cancer to genetics.

Bernstein's film bounces back and forth between Annie and Mary-Claire's stories and also meanders to and fro in the realms of comedy and drama.  The opening line of the film is a quote from Annie -- "My life was a comedy.  I just had to learn how to laugh." -- and despite the subject matter, Bernstein attempts to lighten things up.  Unfortunately, he doesn't quite succeed in creating an adequate balance and his script never quite elevates to anything more than a tv movie.

That being said, however, thanks to a nice performance by Hunt and an even better performance by Morton, Decoding Annie Parker manages to be a little better than the sum of its parts.  Helping as well is the true story of Dr. Mary-Claire King, an undersung hero in the field of genetic research whose contributions to the medical profession are nicely documented here.  It's still nice to know that movies have the ability to open our eyes to certain aspects of our history that we know nothing about.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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