Oil of Hope
Augusto (Nick Nolte) and Michaela Odone (Susan Sarandon), along with their son Lorenzo (Zack O'Malley Greenburg) spent 5 years working in Africa before returning to America. But back in America Lorenzo starts displaying some weird symptoms from becoming destructive and losing his balance to struggling with his hearing as well which leads to the Odones consulting with one specialist after another whilst their son endures one test after another to try and work out what it is which is wrong with him. What Doctor Judalon (Gerry Bamman) discovers is that Lorenzo has the incredibly rare brain degeneration disease called ALD there is bad news as it is so rare there is no known treatment. Determined to help Lorenzo they seek out every expert for information to try and understand this disease and find some sort of cure, fighting the system along the way to try and stop Lorenzo's condition from getting worse.
I hate to start my movie reviews with a negative but when it comes to "Lorenzo's Oil" I can't ignore Nick Nolte's Italian accent or should I say attempt at an Italian accent which is painful. The thickness of it, at least for a while, dominates the movie and distracts you from the storyline and that is a huge shame as "Lorenzo's Oil" is a touching and hugely powerful movie. Fortunately this is a movie which grows and gets more and more powerful the longer it goes on as well as more and more eye opening.
Now I am no medical professional and certainly don't know anything about the true story on which "Lorenzo's Oil" is based but in many ways you don't need to as this is a movie bigger than in this case the specific disease. As such what we get is a journey as first the Odones are given no hope by the medical establishment which Michaela has to deal with learning that the disease is carried by the mothers. We also see how other parents having come together to try and offer support for each other whilst being involved with scientists who rather than trying to help the individual children are in effect using them when it comes to the bigger picture. And whilst this story sees Augusto and Michaela taking it upon themselves to try and find a treatment for their son, learning all about diet and fat absorption in doing so it does a fantastic job of highlighting what people go through when it comes to being diagnosed with a rare disease especially one which is hereditary.
Now I have already mentioned Nick Nolte's accent in "Lorenzo's Oil" but I should also say he delivers a powerful performance of a passionate and determined man and that makes him well matched to play alongside Susan Sarandon who delivers an equally determined and strong characterisation of an equally determined woman. In fact watching Nolte and Sarandon together you reckon that as Augusto and Lorenzo Odone they could dominate pretty much anyone. But we have nice variation with the likes of Kathleen Wilhoite delivering a much softer performance as Michaela's sister who helps to care for Lorenzo. As for Zack O'Malley Greenburg who plays Lorenzo, well he makes the movie as he brings to life the way the disease changes him from the walk to the shouting and the struggle to form words.
What this all boils down to is that "Lorenzo's Oil" is still a truly powerful movie which not only tells the story of Augusto, Michaela and Lorenzo Odone's story but brings to life the emotions and journey of any parent who has to deal with learning that their child has a rare, incurable disease.