Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Five": Sony and Lifetime present an anthology of five short films on women with breast cancer

On Monday, Oct. 10, Lifetime (and Sony Pictures Classics) aired “Five”, the 5-part “quintalog” anthology on breast cancer, five short films somewhat in the style of Krzysztof Piesiewicz and the “Decalogue”, with five different directors.

Charlotte”, directed by Demi Moore, is set in 1969 at the time of the Moon landing.  The film emphasizes tenderness within the family as the little girl doesn’t really understand what is happening to her mother Charlotte (Gennifer Goodwin), in an era before diagnosis and treatment was well advanced.

Mia”, directed by Jennifer Anniston presents the story, going backwards in time, of Mia (Patrician Clarkson), who has beaten the odds, survived, and now faces financial problems. This film ends with an almost sci-fi glimpse of downtown LA at night.

Cheyanne”, directed by Penelope Spheeris, was the most daring of the set. Cheyanne (Lyndsy Forsica) is a married dancer in her late 20s. One day, during intimacy, her husband  (Josh Dallas) discovers a lump.  She quickly finds out the grim nature of her prognosis, due to genetics, and her husband has to face how he feels about a young wife who loses both breasts.  At one point, he plays the “Be Brave and Shave” act. The intimacy of the final scene is quite shocking.  There’s a line very early in the film, before the crisis, where the husband says “Don’t touch the hair”.  Interesting.

Lili”, directed by Alicia Keys, presents  a single, childless attorney (perhaps lesbian) played by Rosario Dawson, constantly fending off unwanted attention from others, particularly her mother.  She already knows of her cancer, and the lumpectomy will force her to reconsider her aloofness from others. The operating room is presented in a scary, distant, sci-fi way.  The episode presents an elderly male patient with breast cancer.  There is also a provocative early conversation where the mother insists (before she knows about the medical issue) that Lili attend a cousin's wedding: according to the "family" comes first, even for people without their own children. 

Pearl”, directed by Patty Jenkins, presents us with a female surgeon (Jennifer Lewis) who will have to overcome breast cancer herself.

My own mother had breast cancer and a radical mastectomy at age 68 in 1980.  She did not take chemotherapy, but it never recurred. In 2009, it recurred on the other side at age 96, and a lumpectomy was not successful, but she passed away of heart failure at the end of 2010.

Here is the site.  This is quite a compelling work. I guess there will be a theatrical release in 2012. 


For men, prostate cancer has a very good chance of being slow growing and not needing radical treatment for years, but this is not true of breast cancer.

The number “Five” has frequently appeared in the title of films, such as “Five Lines”, a drama of intersecting stories of characters whose lives intersect on the DC Metro and perish at almost the same moment,  directed by Nicholas Panagopolus, in 2001 for Brainbox.

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