Monday, November 26, 2012

EUFF 2012 Review - Stopped On Track

Frank and Simone Lange sit in a doctors office as the doctor plainly describes that Frank headaches  over the last few month are due to a brain tumour. The couple are shown brain images and the doctor explains that because of the location and size of the tumour surgery is not an option. Their next decision is on how and when to tell their 14 year old daughter Lilli and 8 year old son Mika that their father only has a couple of months to live.

At first Frank continues to go to work at the plant and all seems relatively well. One night as the family is around the dinner table Frank seeing his family together and happy becomes distraught and Simone tells her children that their father is not well.

The family takes an overnight trip to a water park that starts out fine until Frank goes missing in the middle of the night to be found by his kids lying on the ground near a garden unable to get back to their sleeping quarters. They decide to leave the park right away. Next we see Frank as he becomes violently ill in the car on the way home.

Frank begins to use his iPhone as a tool to discuss and record the changes that are occurring to him and the reactions of people around him.  He even sees the tumour as separate entity a kind of conjoined twin that is sharing his life.

Radiation and Chemotherapy treatments serve to make Frank weaker and appearingly sicker. He takes to using a cane, begins to forget where certain rooms are in the house and when his parents come to visit they are devastated by his appearance.

As the family have opted for home-care the strain on Simone is immense. She is drinking quite often  while she is at home and her only relief is when she goes out to work as a tram driver. The kids are also involved to different degrees in the home care and helping their father to get around.

After a very violent seizure during which Simone and Mika struggled to get him into a bed.  Frank becomes bedridden and their palliative care aid begins to brief Simone on what she should expect from here on in and how her children will need to be there at the end for their well being.

Some family and friends come by to visit and each react in their own way to Frank condition. Some are able to face it head on, others avoid and most cannot even come to the home to see him.

A multi award winning and sought after festival circuit film Stopped on Track is a very powerful drama. Frank downward trajectory from a healthy family man to a bed ridden helpless individual is detailed step by step on film.  Starting with increased difficulty with everyday activities, memory loss, loss of motor skills, fits of rage, crying spells and eventually quiet and peaceful.  All of the main cast turn in excellent performances. Especially poignant is the increased involvement of his children in his hands on care as he deteriorates.

A film that I can highly recommend.

**** out of 4

Milan Preschel; Steffi Kuhnert; Taslisa Lili Lemke; Mika Nilson Seidel

Stopped on Track | Andreas Dresen | Germany | 2011 | 110 minutes.

European Union Film Festival 2012.

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