My Life (1993)
I’d avoided this film until last night. I know why, of course, but I suppose I just wasn’t ready for it. Turns out that I couldn’t sleep for half the night after seeing it.
(From IMDb:) Life is going well for Bob Jones: great job, beautiful loving wife and a baby on the way. Then he finds out that he has kidney cancer that will leave him dead within months. He sets out to videotape his life’s acquired wisdom for his child, and ends up on a voyage of self-discovery and reconciliation.
I only have one complaint about the film: everybody talked in hushed tones (as if Bob was already dead), so it became quite difficult to hear the dialog, but I knew what they were saying, anyway.
Everybody carries around their anger and frustrations about missed opportunities and feelings of disappointment, especially from childhood. Bob’s anger is because God didn’t give him a circus in his back yard on his sixth (?) birthday. He’d even prefaced the prayer request with the saying kids recite when they see the first star at night:
Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.
Bob didn’t repeat this procedure until it was looking unlikely that he would live long enough to see his son born. This time he asked God to let him live.
In the meantime, he started getting some healing from Mr. Ho.
Mr. Ho: Mr. Jones?
Bob Jones: Look, just so you know, I’m looking for a miracle here, so…
Mr. Ho: You believe in miracles?
Bob Jones: I will if this works.
Every time Mr. Ho worked on Bob’s body, focusing on the cancer, he discussed the need for Bob to clear his anger issues, and the need for forgiveness. During each session, Bob would see a star pattern in his vision and feel sensations that made him bolt upright from the table. (In my terms, the healing was having a positive effect, but Bob’s knee-jerk reaction may have short-circuited the healing benefits.)
The other problem Bob had stemmed back to childhood, too, when he was sick as a dog after riding a roller coaster. He finally decides to try it again as an adult, and gets through the ordeal with ‘flying colours’. Then he has this realization…
Bob Jones: Today’s D-Day. Death day. I’m supposed to be dead by today. From now on, I’m living on borrowed time.
Then he and Gail have a slow waltz in the middle of the Midway.
When the baby, to be named Brian, finally arrives, Bob is so mesmerized by the birth process he forgets to video record it. Only after Brian is in Gail’s arms does Bob snap out of his reverie.
Then his world falls apart: the cancer has spread to his brain and he begins having coordination problems, causing him to require a hospice nurse.
Bob’s family fly out to California and they are all reconciled finally. And his parents finally make his wish come true by giving him a circus in his back yard. The delight in his eyes looked genuine.
Of course, in the end, Bob dies, but with his dying comes a return to the roller coaster, but this time, he’s on his own, and he’s no longer holding onto the vehicle. As it rolls down the steep drop, he seems to soar toward his visual starburst. He is free.