TWO WEEKS
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Sally Field as Anita Bergman
in TWO WEEKS
Photo Credit: Mark Levine
© 2006 Two Weeks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
TWO WEEKS received a one-week qualifying run
in Los Angeles in December 2006. Although the
producers and distributors might have hoped
that the Academy would take notice of lead
Sally Field's strong performance, it was not
meant to be. Part of the problem may have
derived from the fact that despite her fierce
Nicholson, the movie showcasing these women
is akin to the regular fare that pops up on the
Oxygen or Lifetime cable channels.

It's obvious that this is personal territory for
writer-director Steve Stockman and indeed the
press notes indicate that Stockman and his
siblings were gathered at his mother's bedside
and watched her die. He attempts in inject
some levity into the situation -- let's face it,
even in the face of dire tragedy, comedy
sometimes rears its head -- and though he got
encouragement in his screenwriting classes, the
on screen results feel somewhat forced and not
as amusing as they are meant to be.

The film's premise is fairly straightforward:
Anita Bergman (Field) is dying from ovarian
cancer. Her four children eventually gather at
the home she shares with her second husband
Jim (James Murtaugh) and spend about fourteen
days as she struggles and eventually succumbs
to the disease. As with any stressful situation
involving one or more parental figures, the
various siblings snipe and generally revert to
acting as they did as youngsters. There's Emily,
the practical one who has purchased a raft of
books about dying and death in the hopes of
trying to understand and make things go a bit
more smoothly. Keith (Ben Chaplin) is a
recovering addict who now makes his living in
the film industry. Barry (Tom Cavanagh) is a
Type-A businessman who finds his mother's
illness more of an inconvenience than anything
else -- at least at first. And finally, there's
Matthew (Glenn Howerton), the baby of the
family who is married to the generally disliked
Katrina (Clea Duvall).

Over the course of the two weeks, the siblings
bicker, deal with visiting spouses and children
and watch as their mother becomes sicker and
sicker. Interspersed with these scenes are
pieces of a filmed interview between Keith and
his mother (it is not made clear when the
material was shot as Anita appears perky and a
bit more healthy). These scenes don't exactly
drive the plot forward but they do offer Field the
opportunity to build her character.

Stockman, whose background is in commercials,
makes a critical error that many first-time
filmmakers do: writing autobiographically
inspired material without being able to put
distance between himself and the subject
matter. The character played by Ben Chaplin is
obviously meant to be the authorial stand-in,
but he is one of the least developed ones in the
screenplay. But then, only the roles played by
Field and Nicholson feel fully formed. There are
intriguing hints at friendships, resentments
(particularly on the part of the stepfather who
gets one scene to reveal his feelings as an
outsider in the family) and other issues, but
they are not developed. Despite all the best
efforts of Clea Duvall, her character comes off
as one-note and unformed.

Chaplin, Cavanagh and Howerton attempt to
breathe some life into the one-dimensional
parts, but this is really Field's showcase and she
delivers. In some ways, though, this film can be
seen as a run-through for her richer and more
varied lead in the ABC television series
Brothers and Sisters.

TWO WEEKS offers some positive views on
hospice care and tackles head-on a theme that
few American features do, but it lacks the
gravitas of something like the European drama
THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU. It's
something of a shame because if Stockman had
perhaps honed his script a little more, he might
have made a terrific movie instead of a passable
one.


Rating:                C-
MPAA Rating:     R for language, including
                     some sexual references
Running time:    102 mins.




Viewed at Magno Review Two