Stars: Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon, Peter Ustinov, Kathleen Wilhoite, Gerry Bamman
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 136 minutes
With this powerful 1992 drama, director-producer George Miller (The Road Warrior) proved that a movie about a disease doesn't have to be a typical disease-of-the-week movie. Based on the real-life case of the Odones family, the story concerns 5-year-old Lorenzo, suffering mightily from an apparently incurable and degenerative brain illness called A.L.D. His parents, an economist (Nick Nolte) and a linguist (Susan Sarandon), refuse to accept the received wisdom that there is no hope, and set about learning biochemistry to pursue a cure on their own. The film becomes an intriguing scientific mystery mixed with a story of pain, grief, and the strain on the two adults. In other words, Lorenzo's Oil is similar to all those medical-mayhem TV flicks but with some key differences: a pair of great actors in Sarandon and Nolte--who actually do some of the finest work of their careers here--and Miller's bold and typically inventive direction. Miller, a doctor himself, refuses to shirk from the chaos and horrors of a child's agony, and he makes us hear the death chains rattling behind images that would be purely sentimental in another director's hands. --Tom Keogh
Dr. Nikolias, what about the other boys, what results are you seeing in them?
As with Lorenzo it's too early to tell. We need this study to run for the full six months.
And that would tell you what is obvious right now? That avoiding apple skins and pizza has no effect on this brutal disease?
This is my mother. All of her sisters has red hair, they call it "Murphy" hair and this is Papa, he's Italian. He wants to go home to Italy because the tomatoes in America taste like cardboard but the World Bank wants him back in Washington.
And what's this?
This one is me, Lorenzo Michael Murphy Odone.