Dying Young

Death gets the glamour treatment in this genderbending ripoff of Love Story. Victor Geddes, an impossible role well played by Campbell Scott, has money, intelligence, good looks and leukemia. To get through chemotherapy, he hires a private nurse. Well, not a nurse exactly. Hilary O'Neil, played by the pretty-woman incarnate, Julia Roberts, did want to be a nurse in high school. But it didn't pan out. No matter. Hilary's job interview, in spike heels and a red mini, more than convinces Victor that she can hold his head while he's puking. Too bad the filmmakers don't offer a similar service for those who gag on cinematic treacle.

Working from a sappy script adapted by Richard Friedenberg, from a not-so-sappy novel by Marti Leimbach, director Joel Schumacher has fashioned a film of stupefying idiocy in the manner of Flatliners, his collaboration with Roberts last year. In remission, Victor sweeps Hilary off for some R&R in picturesque Mendocino, where the sea air emboldens Victor to make his move. The two fall in love and set up housekeeping. Victor's hair, lost in treatment, starts growing in. Later, his condition worsens. An early version of the film ended with Victor's suicide. Now, there's a happy ending with an inescapable message: Even dying young has an up side, as long as you're dying rich.

From The Archives Issue 71: November 26, 1970
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